In observance of Juneteenth, Ward Law will close all offices. This will be a day for our attorneys and staff to educate and connect on the significance of this moment in Black history and we encourage everyone else to do the same.
Juneteenth celebrates the date in 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned that they had been freed through Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger’s “General Orders, Number 3.” The day is the oldest commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, but it hasn’t been honored as a holiday or taught in history classes throughout much of the country.
Juneteenth’s closest equivalent among the holidays traditionally acknowledged by corporate America is Labor Day. The labor movement fought for the date honoring workers, which became a federal holiday in 1894. No other holiday on the American calendar specifically honors the end of slavery.
In 1980, Texas became the first state to designate Juneteenth as a holiday. Then, 45 other states and the District of Columbia have moved to officially recognize the day. Florida followed in 1991, Pennsylvania in 2001 and New Jersey in 2004. In 2019, New Hampshire became the latest state to declare Juneteenth a state holiday. On Tuesday, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia said he would propose legislation to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday and on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York declared the anniversary a holiday for state employees.
In 2018, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating June 19 as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” but it has not yet reached the House. The time is now!
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