RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he will propose making Juneteenth – a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. – an official holiday in a state that was once home to the capital of the Confederacy.
Juneteenth, which is also called Emancipation Day and Freedom Day, is celebrated annually on June 19. Texas first made it a state holiday in 1980.
The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when news finally reached African Americans in Texas that President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves living in Confederate states two years earlier. When Union soldiers arrived in Galveston to bring the news that slavery had been abolished, former slaves celebrated.
President Donald Trump announced last week that he has rescheduled a campaign rally that was planned in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Juneteenth. The announcement of the rally had sparked an outcry because Tulsa was the site of one of the worst instances of racial violence in U.S. history in 1921, when hundreds of African Americans were massacred by a white mob that burned black-owned businesses and homes.
Earlier this year, Northam signed legislation scrapping Lee-Jackson Day, a state holiday named after two Confederate generals.
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