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Florida does not celebrate Juneteenth as official state holiday

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In 2021, President Joe Biden recognized Juneteenth as an official national holiday, signing a bill into law that added the day to the list of federal holidays. As a federal holiday, banks are closed and mail delivery is paused.

However, while federally recognized, not all states in the United States have officially added the day to their legally recognized public holidays. While some states celebrate Juneteenth as a paid holiday, Florida and more than 20 other states do not, though it is recognized in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Congressional Research Service said Juneteenth “celebrates the end of slavery in the United States,” and is also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day.

President Abraham Lincoln declared all slaves free with the Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863. However, it wasn’t until two-and-a-half years later that all slaves in the Union were freed. On June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, Texas were told they were free, two months after the Civil War’s end. It is this day that Juneteenth recognizes and celebrates.

The Pew Research Center said that while all of the states have passed resolutions recognizing the day as an observance, not all count it on their list of official public holidays.

“With the exception of Texas, all states that currently recognize the day as a public holiday commemorated Juneteenth this way years before it became an official state holiday that gives state workers a paid day off,” Pew said.

Of the states that do not currently have a legal recognition of Juneteenth as a holiday, Florida is one of 26 states that do not yet have the day on the official calendar as a paid holiday. However, The Sunshine State, along with Oklahoma and Minnesota, was among “the fist states outside Texas to commemorate Juneteenth as a day of observance in the 1990s.”

In Florida, some county commissions and city councils have declared Juneteenth a recognized holiday and have closed the offices, with one example being Hillsborough County.

According to state statutes, the state governor “may issue annually a proclamation designating June 19th as Juneteenth Day and calling on public officials, schools, private organizations, and all citizens to honor the historic significance of the day” but it is not a yearly requirement, like on other holidays.

The last states to recognize Juneteenth formally were North and South Dakota, and Hawaii, according to Pew.

The Pew Research Center compiled a list of states that have recognized Juneteenth, and when each will start recognizing it as an official, paid holiday, if not already.

State Year First Observed First Year Paid Holiday
Alabama 2011
Alaska 2001
Arizona 2016
Arkansas 2005
California 2003
Colorado 2004 2022
Connecticut 2003 2023
Delaware 2000 2022
District of Columbia 2003 2021
Florida 1991
Georgia 2011 2022
Hawaii 2021
Idaho 2001 2021
Illinois 2003 2021
Indiana 2010
Iowa 2002
Kansas 2007
Kentucky 2005
Louisiana 2003 2022
Maine 2011 2022
Maryland 2014 2022
Massachusetts 2007 2021
Michigan 2005 2022
Minnesota 1996
Mississippi 2010
Missouri 2013 2022
Montana 2017
Nebraska 2019 2022
Nevada 2011
New Hampshire 2019
New Jersey 2004 2021
New Mexico 2006 2022
New York 2004 2020
North Carolina 2007
North Dakota 2021
Ohio 2006 2021
Oklahoma 1994
Oregon 2001 2022
Pennsylvania 2019
Rhode Island 2012
South Carolina 2008
South Dakota 2020 2022
Tennessee 2007
Texas 1980 1980
Utah 2016 2022
Vermont 2007
Virginia 2007 2020
Washington 2007 2022
West Virginia 2008 2021
Wisconsin 2009
Wyoming 2003
(Source: Pew Research Center)

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