As cities throughout the state move to recognize Juneteenth as a day of remembrance and reflection in their communities, Assemblymembers Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (who represents the Hopewell Valley, which is part of the 15th Legislative District), Jamel Holley (20th LD), and Benjie Wimberly (35th LD) sponsored legislation to have the historic commemoration designated as a state and public holiday in New Jersey. The bill was signed into law last week by Governor Murphy.
The new law (formerly A-4315) designates the third Friday in June in each year as Juneteenth Day, which commemorates June 19, 1865, the day Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas to inform some of the last enslaved people that the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed two years previously and that they were free. The announcement from General Granger led to celebration and jubilation, which has continued each year in various forms throughout the United States for over 150 years.
Sponsors, Reynolds-Jackson, Holley, and Wimberly issued the following statement on the legislation:
“We’re at another set of crossroads in this country’s history—just as we were in 1863— where we can decide to move humanity forward by once again acknowledging the wrongs committed against African Americans and taking bold action to correct them. A visual illustration of the impact of centuries of systematic and institutionalized racism has our country reeling over the question, ‘Why?’ Why does this continue to persist in our communities today?
“Juneteenth was a defining moment in American History claiming the beginning of African American independence in this country. It is time for the commemoration of a pivotal moment in history to become an official state holiday, underscoring its importance to our communities and giving time for reflection on how far we have come and have to go to achieve equality and justice for all.”
Submitted by New Jersey General Assembly- Majority Office