Juneteenth proclaimed state holiday again in Alabama, after bill to make it permanent falters

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has reauthorized Juneteenth – the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States – as a holiday, amid ongoing legislative efforts to make it a permanent holiday in the state have failed.

Ivey’s office said Monday that June 19 will be a holiday for state workers to coincide with the federal holiday. Juneteenth has been a federal holiday since 2021. This will be the fourth year Ivey has designated it a state holiday.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned from Union soldiers that they were free. The news came two months after the end of the Civil War and about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

It would take action from the Alabama legislature to make Juneteenth a permanent holiday. There have been efforts to do this or to abolish or rename the state’s three Confederate-related holidays. So far, none of these attempts have been successful.

A bill proposed this year would have added Juneteenth as a permanent holiday. It would have let state employees choose whether they wanted to take time off from work that day or Jefferson Davis’ birthday. The House of Representatives passed the bill, but it did not receive a vote in the Alabama Senate.

Alabama has three Confederate-related holidays that close state offices. Alabama marks Confederate Memorial Day in April and the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in June. The state celebrates together with Martin Luther King, Jr. in January. Day Robert E. Lee Day.