House Approves Juneteenth as a State Holiday

May 6, 2022

On the final day of the 2022 legislative session, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed SB 350, recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday. 

The bill now heads to the governor's desk for his signature.

Juneteenth is the oldest known commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. The day is also sometimes called "Juneteenth Independence Day," "Freedom Day," or "Emancipation Day."

On June 19, 1865, about two months after the American Civil War, Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom and that the war had ended. This announcement came two and half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. 

We cannot understate the importance of Juneteenth. It is a celebration of resilience, of culture and American history. It is emblematic of freedom for African Americans and for us all. It is a reminder of how far our country has come, and how far we still have to go.

On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth became the 11th Federal holiday when President Biden signed it into law.

With the governor's signature, Connecticut will be among a handful of states in distinguishing Juneteenth as a state holiday.

I was presiding over the chamber in my role as Deputy Speaker while debate on the Juneteenth took place, and I had both a sense of pride and some gut-wrenching moments as I looked and listened from the dais.
I had to compose myself and not weigh in, as much as I wanted to do it. I found myself reflecting on a historic moment and was so proud of many of my colleagues throughout the debate and eventual passage of the bill.

When I dropped the gavel upon passage, there were heartfelt feelings of relief, joy, sadness and again, pride. We stand on the shoulders of many greats that came before us, but nothing is taken for granted. 

Geraldo Reyes