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Oregon House passes bill to make Juneteenth an official state holiday

House Bill 2168 would establish June 19 as a state holiday in Oregon, marking the final emancipation of slaves after the Civil War.

Posted: Apr 9, 2021 1:13 PM
Updated: Apr 9, 2021 1:15 PM

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill that would establish Juneteenth, a commemoration of slavery's end in the United States, as an official state holiday.

Juneteenth is the oldest-known event celebrating the end of slavery. On June 19, 1865, Major-General Gordon Granger led his Union soldiers into Galveston, Texas, with the news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became official on January 1, 1863.

Most states now recognize Juneteenth as either a state or ceremonial holiday, though it is not officially recognized at the federal level.

According to Oregon House Democrats, the holiday was first introduced in Oregon during 1945, when Clara Peoples led a celebration during her work break at the Vanport shipyards.


RELATED: OSF holds virtual Juneteenth celebration (2020)


"We remember the legacy of Clara Peoples, ‘Mother of Juneteenth,’ and the annual celebrations that kept this tradition alive long before this holiday was officially recognized,” said Rep. Janelle Bynum (D- Clackamas), Chair of the BIPOC Caucus.

In 2001, the Oregon legislature passed a joint resolution observing Juneteenth each year, but it did not become an official state holiday. Governor Kate Brown issued a proclamation in 2020 to mark the day, announcing plans to make it a state holiday.

“By making Juneteenth an official state holiday, we can both confront and acknowledge our shameful history of racial discrimination and white supremacist violence, while celebrating and recognizing the contributions Black Americans have made and continue to make in the face of systemic inequities,” said House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner, chief sponsor of the bill. “Juneteenth can help Oregon look to a future of racial equity and justice.”

Having passed the House with bipartisan support, the bill now moves on to the Oregon Senate.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 348766

Reported Deaths: 4161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah54797689
Washington37988313
Marion36055444
Clackamas29094304
Lane26966298
Jackson22632300
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Linn12380120
Douglas11795240
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Polk715380
Malheur551574
Benton529130
Coos489691
Columbia371343
Jefferson361450
Union313146
Lincoln310638
Wasco281540
Crook274745
Clatsop239529
Baker198028
Tillamook193328
Hood River188337
Morrow181623
Curry178122
Harney108424
Grant97612
Lake89011
Wallowa67012
Gilliam1484
Sherman1463
Wheeler991
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Butte23364260
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