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Washington State News

Sunday Marks Washington’s First Juneteenth Holiday

OLYMPIA – This Sunday, June 19, will be the first Juneteenth to be celebrated as an official Washington state holiday. HB 1016, sponsored by Rep. Melanie Morgan, was approved by the Legislature last year to establish the holiday.

The observance marks the day when hundreds of thousands of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were told of their freedom by federal troops in 1865, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

On Thursday, a business resource group for state employees called Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity (BUILD) hosted a celebration of Juneteenth. The event included the first-ever Juneteenth flag-raising at the Capitol Campus.

“We shake up status quo by continuing to dismantle systemic racism,” said Rep. Melanie Morgan, who highlighted state efforts to advance equity and anti-racism. “Once again, the state of Washington is leading the way in being an anti-racist state. We are the only state in the nation with the Office of Equity, I was proud to take that vote. We shake things up by continuing to hold one another accountable.”

“Narratives used to justify slavery are still connected with narratives used to oppress Black Americans today. We see it in the forms of mass incarceration, discriminatory housing policies, and a lack of economic investment, creating inequities that have placed Black Americans significantly behind their white counterparts. Until we grapple with our history and its impact on the present, we cannot do the work to improve our future,” Inslee said at the celebration on Thursday.