Some states not on board with making Juneteenth a holiday

Race in America

FILE – In this June 19, 2020, file photo, demonstrators march through downtown Orlando, Fla., during a Juneteenth event. Congress and President Joe Biden acted with unusual swiftness Thursday, June 17, 2021, in approving Juneteenth as a national holiday. That sent many states scrambling to clarify their policies on the celebration of slavery’s end. This year alone, Juneteenth bills hit roadblocks in Florida, Maryland, Ohio and South Dakota. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

(NewsNation) —  Monday marks the public holiday for Juneteenth, the day set aside to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

President Joe Biden signed the new holiday into law last year with bipartisan support. But on the state level, some still do not formally recognize the holiday.

For many African-Americans, the recognition of Black independence is a long time coming and a day worth celebrating.

“Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom. It’s a celebration of African-Americans and their ancestors becoming free in this country,” said Kamilah Moore, an attorney and chairperson of the California Reparations Task Force.

It’s the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration to the end of slavery in the U.S., and it’s often called America’s second Independence Day.

Juneteenth’s origins lie in Galveston, Texas, where on June 19, 1865, the last enslaved people were finally freed two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

This year marks the second annual observance of Juneteenth as a federal holiday. From coast to coast, celebrations kicked off in grand fashion over the weekend.

There were festivals and celebrations of Black culture through song and dance, family gatherings, picnics and acknowledgments of Black achievements. But Juneteenth is also a time for reflection and rejoicing for all Americans.

“It’s so good that people of all races are grasping what this is all about. It’s time for a new beginning, no turning back, we’re moving forward,” said someone celebrating Juneteenth in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

It took years to get the emancipation of enslaved people recognized as a national holiday, but many African-American communities have celebrated Juneteenth for generations.

But the road to acknowledging the history of slavery in this country still faces obstacles. So far, at least 24 states and the District of Columbia legally recognize Juneteenth as a public holiday. Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, Texas, Washington and Maine are giving government workers a paid day off for the holiday. Florida, Iowa and California are not yet on board.

The same goes for major corporations. The rollout has been marked with some major missteps by some of the largest U.S. companies. Walmart, for instance, offered a Juneteenth ice cream that faced backlash on social media for trying to capitalize on the holiday. The company later apologized.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis was forced to apologize and remove its Juneteenth-themed watermelon salad from its menu ahead of its Juneteenth Jamboree Celebration. They later acknowledged the negative impact racial stereotypes have on the Black community.

Meanwhile, companies such as Best Buy, Starbucks, Target and Nike are offering time off or holiday pay to employees in recognition of Juneteenth.

“I also think that Juneteenth introduces or should introduce conversations around corporate responsibility or accountability,” Moore said.

Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris surprised a group of children at the National Museum of African American History and Culture for a Juneteenth Celebration.

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