Juneteenth legislation passes out of committee and to the House Floor

By: Cirien Saadeh, Executive Director

Legislation to officially recognize June 19 as an official state holiday in Minnesota passed out of the House State and Local Government Finance and Policy on June 17. The bill’s author Representative Ruth Richardson (DFL- District 52B) presented the bill to the committee. 

“Some are under the mistaken impression that the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 ended the brutal institution of slavery. However, as the Civil War ended, there were still thousands of Black people who remained enslaved. It is a reality of the legacy of this country, of delaying freedom for Black people. In Minnesota and across the US, July 4 is celebrated as Independence Day. It is about freedom, it is about liberty, but it is also about an imperfect freedom, because slavery legally existed in this nation,” said Richardson. 

The legislation, HF 48, has several co-authors. The Senate version of the legislation was re-referred to Senate Education Policy on Jan. 17. 

Richardson was joined by one testifier, Lee Jordan, the State and Regional Director for the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation. 

“I have been a part of Juneteenth since about 1989. It has been my pleasure and my honor to make sure we talk about the history of Juneteenth and not just a story in Galveston, Texas, but a story about America. We’re talking about American history,” said Jordan. 

No amendments were offered to the legislation and there was only minimal discussion. 

During the brief discussion, Rep. Jon Koznick (GOP – District 57A) spoke up. 

“You mentioned that this is the legacy of our country. I was born in Columbia and I had the opportunity to visit parts of the country a couple years back and one of them was Cartagena. It was chilling to be in the port where slaves came. I’ll be supporting your bill and it is important to acknowledge worldwide the slavery trade and the atrocity that it was. I appreciate you sharing and informing the rest of the legislature,” said Koznick. 

The bill was passed unanimously to the General Register (the House Floor). 

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