JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri state offices will be closed Friday as the state recognizes the new Juneteenth federal holiday.
The bill to make Juneteenth, or June 19, a federal holiday swiftly passed through the Senate and House this week, and President Joe Biden signed it into law on Thursday. Because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, the holiday is being observed on Friday.
Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the Southern states.
“This is a day of profound weight and profound power, a day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take,” Biden said.
Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday in almost 40 years. The last time the United States created a new national holiday was 1983 with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Most federal employees will now get Juneteenth off as a paid holiday. Missouri’s state employees will also get a paid day of leave.
Other states have also made a similar move in past years or as recently as Thursday with the creation of this new federal holiday.
Juneteenth was already a paid holiday for state employees in Texas, New York, Virginia and Washington, and many other states observed it in some way. Nebraska, Maryland, New Jersey and others also announced Thursday state offices will close.