TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Juneteenth will now be observed as a state holiday in Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Tuesday. The holiday will apply to executive branch employees under the governor’s jurisdiction.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day the last enslaved Americans received word that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation to abolish slavery more than two years after the end of the Civil War.

In 2021, Juneteenth became the first federal holiday created in more than 40 years. Since then, Kansas’ neighboring states of Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado have also established Juneteenth as a state holiday. 

“Establishing Juneteenth as a state holiday provides Kansans an opportunity to celebrate our state’s diversity and honor the ongoing struggles for racial equality,” Gov. Kelly said in a news release.

This year, at least 28 states and the District of Columbia will legally recognize Juneteenth as a public holiday, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.