Sen. Lightford proposes bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, wants to make Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating African-American freedom, a recongized holiday in the state of Illinois.

Juneteenth National Freedom Day is celebrated on June 19. Backed by Lightford, the Senate Bill 1965 would mean a federal holiday for all state employees if approved. The day would serve as a school holiday as well.

“On June 19, 1865, the last slaves were freed, which created a milestone for Black Americans that should be celebrated and used to help educate youth today,” Lightford said. “Making Juneteenth a state holiday is a way of highlighting our freedom and reminding us how far we’ve come.”

Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the “second American Independence Day.” The day has since grown into a celebration of Black history, culture, arts and reflection on the impacts of the civil rights movement.

On Wednesday, Senate Bill 1965 passed the Senate Executive Committee and is scheduled to go to the Senate floor for further debate.

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