Saturday, June 19 is Juneteenth National Freedom Day, marking June 19, 1865, when union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas, the furthest point in the south, with news of the end of the Civil War. Slaves there were previously unaware they had been freed more than two years earlier when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, or that Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered in Virginia two months earlier.
“On Juneteenth, we celebrate the day when America first began to live up to the promise of freedom for all,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “This holiday is a time for both celebration and reflection. It is a time to honor African American history and to recommit ourselves to doing the hard work it will take to truly build a society that lives up to the American dream of equality, liberty and justice for all.
“I was proud to sign the legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday, and it is past time for this important holiday to be recognized by the federal government, as well. “Thank you to the lawmakers who worked so hard to pass legislation this week recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, and to President Biden for signing it into law.”
On June 19, 2019, Wolf signed legislation which designates June 19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in Pennsylvania. In observance of Juneteenth, June 18, 2021, is a special holiday closure for state employees under the governor’s jurisdiction.
On this Juneteenth, Wolf encourages all Pennsylvanians to reflect on the importance of the state holiday and the continued need for action to break down systemic racism and build a fair and just society.
“Each year we celebrate Juneteenth and make a renewed commitment in our nation to liberty and equality for all. However, intolerance, discrimination and violent acts of hate remain far too common in our world,” said Wolf. “This Juneteenth, let us take a stand against injustice and build lasting change to make Pennsylvania – and our nation – live up to the ideals of freedom and justice for all.”