LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a proclamation Wednesday declaring June 19, 2020 as “Juneteenth Celebration Day" for the state.
Juneteenth is a holiday commemorating the day the last African American slaves were notified of their freedom in 1865. President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in 1863 when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, but the news did not reach slaves in Texas until two years later at the end of the Civil War.
“Juneteenth is a crucial day in our nation’s history to remember how far we have come and recognize how far we still have to go,” said Governor Whitmer. “During a time when communities of color are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and when the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have shone a light on the systemic racism Black Americans face every day, we must work together to build a more equitable and just Michigan. I’m proud to declare June 19, 2020 as Juneteenth Celebration Day, and will continue to work tirelessly to create a state that is equal for all.”
The governor signed a similar proclamation last year to recognize Juneteenth Celebration Day. According to the proclamation, Michigan has recognized Juneteenth as a holiday for the last 16 years.
Gov. Whitmer is encouraging Michiganders to celebrate the holiday and Black American history and culture.
“I encourage all citizens in the State of Michigan to participate in the Juneteenth Freedom Festival and celebrate African American history and culture, while continuing to promote diversity, equality and a strong sense of community in our state,” Whitmer said.
Juneteenth -- also known as Jubilee Day or Freedom Day -- is a traditional holiday for many Americans, but is receiving more attention this year as the nation decries racism following the recent killings of multiple Black Americans.
Many companies and organizations have spoken out against racism and police brutality amid the national unrest. Companies like Nike, Quicken Loans and DTE Energy recently announced that they and their employees will observe Juneteenth in an effort to honor and acknowledge Black Americans’ experiences and history.