Juneteenth becomes official public holiday in NYS

Parker wants safe staffing bill into law by 2017
Sen. Kevin Parker.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday signed into law legislation (S.8598/A.10628) designating Juneteenth as an official public holiday in New York State.

The new law celebrates Juneteenth, a day which commemorates the end to slavery and celebrates Black and African American freedom and achievements, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.

Earlier this year, Cuomo issued an Executive Order recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for New York State employees.

“I am incredibly proud to sign into law this legislation declaring Juneteenth an official holiday in New York State, a day which commemorates the end to slavery in the United States,” said Cuomo in a statement.

“This new public holiday will serve as a day to recognize the achievements of the Black community, while also providing an important opportunity for self-reflection on the systemic injustices that our society still faces today,” he added.

Sen. Kevin Parker, who represents the 21st Senatorial District in Brooklyn, welcomed the announcement.

“Finally, we are beginning to acknowledge the historic oppression and injustices that African-Americans have endured,” he said. “This holiday is a first step in reconciliation and healing that our great state needs in order to ensure equity for all people. Thank you, governor, for your support and advocacy.”

Juneteenth commemorates Jun. 19, 1865, when the news of liberation came to Texas more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on Jan. 1, 1863.

African Americans across the state were made aware of their right to freedom on this day when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with federal troops to read General Order No. 3 announcing the end of the Civil War and that all enslaved were now free, as well as to maintain a presence in Texas for the purpose of enforcement of emancipation.