Juneteenth Becomes a Legal Holiday in Illinois

Hi, Leslie Harris in for Mitch Michaels, and today Illinois governor JB pritzker signed a law making Juneteenth illegal holiday in Illinois. So just what does that mean?

Logistically, beginning January 1st, June 19th will be known as National freedom day, and it will be a paid holiday for state workers and public School employees when it falls on a weekday. Next year June 19th falls on a sunday, so the first paid holiday won’t be until 2023. Flags in Illinois will also be flown at half mast on June 19th, and a special Juneteenth flag Will fly above the state capitol starting this year.

But what is this holiday about?

Juneteenth commemorates June 19th 1865, the day Union troops arrived in Galveston Texas, and told enslaved African Americans that the Civil war had ended, and that President Lincoln had declared them free by a proclamation that he had made two years before.

When Governor Pritzker signed the bill he said, “Today even a full 156 years after the 13th amendment formally and constitutionally declared slavery illegal throughout the entire United states, we all know what it means to see justice as yet undelivered.”

The measure was met with bipartisan support in the legislature.

Juneteenth will also be a paid holiday for Cook county employees. In addition, the Chicago skyline will be lit up in red from Thursday through Saturday evening in honor of Juneteenth.