Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the State of Connecticut will observe Juneteenth Independence Day as a legal state holiday for the first time in the state’s history on Monday, June 19, 2023.
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. While the Emancipation Proclamation became effective on January 1, 1863, the news took time to make its way around the country. As such, it was not until June 19, 1865, when the Union army brought word of the proclamation to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, making them among the last to be freed.
“For far too long, Juneteenth and the end of slavery have not been truly appreciated as a major part of United States history to the extent that they should,” Governor Lamont said. “Embracing this history is an important component of educating everyone about how our nation was built and the significance of what this day means. When we ignore the impact of slavery, we ignore who we are as Americans and the extraordinary injustice that it created. Making Juneteenth a legal state holiday does not erase the cruelty of slavery, however it makes it clear that Connecticut acknowledges this gross injustice in our collective history and recognizes its impact.”
This new legal state holiday was created by Public Act 22-128, which Governor Lamont signed into law in 2022. It requires every June 19 to be observed as Juneteenth Independence Day beginning in 2023. If June 19 falls on a Saturday, the legal state holiday will be on the prior Friday, and if it falls on a Sunday, the legal state holiday will be on the following Monday.
State offices in Connecticut will be closed for the day. Additionally, by law, legal state holidays are bank and credit union holidays, during which bank and credit union transactions are generally suspended. The decision to close public schools for the day is up to each school district. By law, any school district that remains open on a legal state holiday must hold a suitable educational program in observance of the holiday.
Juneteenth is also recognized as a federal holiday under a law that President Joe Biden signed in 2021.