R.I. adopts Juneteenth as state holiday beginning in 2024

RHODE ISLAND became the 29th state to officially recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday. / PBN FILE PHOTO

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island has become the 29th state to officially establish Juneteenth as a state holiday.

The holiday, Juneteenth National Freedom Day, will be held annually beginning in 2024 on June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S.

In a statement, Sen. Tiara Mack, D-Providence, who co-sponsored the bill with state Rep. Brianna E. Henries, described Juneteenth as “a holiday that recognizes the unjust and brutal chains that were forced upon millions of African Americans through the first half of our country’s history,” as well as “a joyous event when we celebrate the day that those torturous and inhumane chains were dropped to the ground in the name of freedom and humanity.”

“Not all chains of oppression were broken on June 19 and there is still much work to be done to reach a truly equal and unbiased society,” Mack added. “However, by officially recognizing and celebrating Juneteenth as a holiday, we do have an opportunity to come together toward that better tomorrow.”

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Henries said in a statement that Rhode Island’s recognition of the holiday “is a testament to our collective commitment to acknowledging the painful legacy of slavery while celebrating the progress we have made as a nation.

“It is an opportunity to educate and enlighten all Rhode Islanders about this significant chapter in American history, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the ongoing journey toward true equality,” she continued.

The U.S. government recognized Juneteenth as a federal holiday in 2021 with the signing of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.

Rhode Island began recognizing Juneteenth as an observance in 2012. But with the official latest recognition, all state and public employees will have the day off as a paid holiday beginning in 2024. If June 19 takes place on a Saturday or Sunday, employees will have the following Monday off to observe the holiday.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Voghel@PBN.com.

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