Juneteenth One Step Closer To Becoming State Holiday In Oregon

Jun 1, 2021

Oregon lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday that would make Juneteenth an official state holiday.

  

Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, speaks in front of a photo showing four generations of his family. Frederick is the child standing in front, next to his 103-year-old great-grandfather, a formerly-enslaved person.
Credit Oregon Legislature

Juneteenth is observed on June 19 each year, and marks the date that a Union general rode into Galveston, Texas and announced that enslaved people were to be set free. It’s often considered the date on which the news that slavery was abolished made it to the furthest reaches of the Confederacy.

 

Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, said his family has passed along memories of when the news came to their part of the south.

“Family stories say joy was the first emotion. Next, skepticism," he said. "Active and often deadly reactions followed against freed African-Americans by whites fearful that they might be treated the way they had treated their former slaves.” 

House Bill 2168 has already been approved in the House, but has to return there for a vote on changes made to the bill in the Senate. If the Hosue concurs with those changes, the measure would head to the governor’s desk. If signed into law, it would take effect with the Juneteenth holiday in 2022.