Will Juneteenth become an official holiday?

On April 9th, 2021, the Washington State legislature voted to make Juneteenth a state holiday.  The measure goes now to Governor Inslee for his signature.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth traces its origins back to Galveston, Texas where on June 19, 1865 Union soldiers, led by Major Gen. Gordon Granger landed in the city with news that the Civil War had ended and all slaves were now free. 

The announcement came two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863 that freed slaves in Confederate states. However, since that proclamation was made during the Civil War, it was ignored by Confederate states even though many slaves claimed their freedom based on the Proclamation and over 200,000 joined the union army. 

It wasn’t until the end of the war that Executive Order No. 3 was enforced across the South, Texas was the last Confederate state to get the news. 

General Order No. 3 contained the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to the residents of Texas and freed all remaining enslaved people in the state. It was issued by Union General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865 at Ashton Villa upon arriving at Galveston, Texas, over a month after the formal end of the American Civil War and two years after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. 

The announcement of the order is the central event commemorated by the holiday of Juneteenth, which celebrates the abolition of slavery.