Juneteenth a paid holiday in less than half of states

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TULSA, OK – JUNE 19: A man displays a shirt celebrating the freedom of enslaved Black people during the Juneteenth celebration in the Greenwood District on June 19, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when a Union general read orders in Galveston, Texas stating all enslaved people in Texas were free according to federal law. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — Despite its designation as a federal holiday, few states recognize Juneteenth, the celebration of the effective end of slavery in the U.S., as a paid holiday.

There’s a chance that you may not have seen this story depending on where you get your news. Ten left-leaning and five right-leaning outlets have reported on the topic, according to a report from NewsNation partner Ground News’ Blindspot. The majority of reports, 71%, came from outlets aligned in the center of the political spectrum.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to free enslaved people more than two years after the emancipation proclamation was signed.

Attempts to give Juneteenth the same deference as Memorial Day or July Fourth didn’t begin to gain traction until 2020, when protests sparked a nationwide push to address race.

Those sentiments were fueled by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the deaths of other Black people by police officers.

Last year, Congress and President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a national holiday — the first time the federal government had designated a new national holiday since approving Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

Yet the move didn’t result in an automatic adoption from most states.

This year, nearly 20 states are expected to close state offices and give most of their public employees time off. At least six states officially adopted the holiday over the past few months, including Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, South Dakota, Utah and Washington.

Lawmakers in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and other states failed to advance proposals this year that would have closed state offices and given most of their public employees paid time off for the June 19 holiday.

Some cities in Arizona, including Phoenix, have declared Juneteenth an official holiday, paying city employees and closing municipal buildings. However, lawmakers are not currently considering statewide recognition.

Arizona was also slow in recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day, not doing so until 1992. It was one of the last states to officially recognize the civil rights leader.

This story is part of NewsNation’s new “Blindspot” initiative in partnership with Ground News to provide readers with contextual, unbiased news they may not find covered by every media outlet.

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