22nd Alaska State Legislature
McGuire Bill Honors ''Juneteenth Day''
For Immediate Release: February 8, 2001
Contact: Representative Lesil McGuire at (907) 465-2995
(JUNEAU) -- All Alaskans will have a special holiday to commemorate the end of slavery and celebrate the freedom of all Alaskans, under a bill unanimously passed today by the House of Representatives.
Sponsored by Rep. Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage), House Bill 100 would establish the third Saturday in June as "Juneteenth Day" in Alaska, an unpaid holiday marking the abolition of slavery in the United States, and highlighting the achievements of African-Americans in the state.
"Juneteenth Day is an opportunity for all Alaskans to come together to commemorate the end of slavery and celebrate one Alaska," McGuire said. "I think it's important because Alaska is a melting pot of people from a lot of different cultures, nationalities, races and backgrounds. We need to recognize that we're all one, united Alaska and that we can all learn from the past."
Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation legally ended slavery in the United States, and extended to all Americans the promises of freedom embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, McGuire said. Juneteenth Day was first celebrated by freed slaves in Galveston, Texas who only received news of their emancipation on June 19, 1865. Because the third Saturday in June falls on the 16th, 17th, 18th or 19th of the month, the celebration has become known as Juneteenth Day.
"Juneteenth Day has been celebrated in Alaska for over 20 years, and on the Park Strip in Anchorage for the past eight years," McGuire said. "I believe we can only make significant and lasting improvements in our society when we are sensitive to the conditions and experiences of others, and this celebration can help Alaskans achieve this sensitivity."
HB 100 encourages civic groups and members of the public to observe and reflect on the suffering of the millions of people held in slavery, and to celebrate the freedom and equality that all American's enjoy today. HB 100 has been referred to the Senate for consideration.
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