Colorado lawmakers pass bill making Juneteenth state holiday

Denver Juneteenth 2021
Posted at 5:39 PM, Apr 11, 2022

DENVER — Colorado lawmakers have passed a bill designating Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S., as an official state holiday, and Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign it.

The House on Monday voted 61 to 2 to pass the legislation, SB 22-139, recognizing the June 19 paid holiday. It easily passed the Senate in March.

“Juneteenth celebrations have existed in Colorado for generations, it’s time we make our celebration official with a state holiday,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, one of the bill's sponsors. “I’m proud of our tremendous efforts that went into giving the Juneteenth holiday the statewide recognition it deserves. The historical legacy of Juneteenth educates Coloradans about the horrors of slavery and celebrates the perseverance of our Black ancestors, and I couldn’t be happier to champion this important legislation.”

Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day, commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers told enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, that they were free. It was two months after the Confederacy surrendered and more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.