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West Fargo, N. Juneteenth — also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day — commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free in in Galveston, Texas, where Union soldiers brought them the news two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Although the North Dakota legislation would make June 19 a state-recognized holiday, it would not be an official paid holiday for state employees — something backers said likely would have hindered the bill's passage.

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Senate Bill advanced out of the House in a vote.

It was approved by the Senate earlier this session and now he to Gov. Doug Burgum's desk. North Dakota is one of just three states in the country that doesn't already recognize Juneteenth. Marches and protests in the wake of George Floyd 's killing in Minneapolis sparked conversation about the holiday in North Dakota last summer.

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Burgum declared June 19,a day of celebration, though his proclamation applied only for that year. Fargo Democrat Sen. Tim Mathern, who introduced the Juneteenth bill alongside his longtime Republican colleague Sen. Ray Holmberg, of Grand Forks, said he wasn't aware of Juneteenth until last summer, when he participated in protest marches after Floyd's death.

Looking for ways to bridge racial divides in North Dakota, the Fargo senator committed to pursuing legislation that would establish the emancipation celebration as a state holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the arrival of Union forces in Galveston, Texas, on June 19,where they informed enslaved people of the end of the Civil War and their new freedom.

Though President Abraham Lincoln outlawed slavery with his Emancipation Proclamation two-and-a-half years prior, many people in Southern and border states remained enslaved as the war continued. Currently, South Dakota and Hawaii are the only other states that don't officially recognize Juneteenth.

North dakota legislature oks juneteenth ceremonial holiday

There are no Black members in North Dakota's predominately white Legislature, and Black people make up just under 3. Census Bureau estimates. Though Mathern's bill would establish Juneteenth as a state recognized holiday, it would not provide a paid day off for state employees, a provision he said would not garner enough support among lawmakers.

The bill drew some opposition on the House floor Tuesday. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, a member of the ultra-conservative Bastiat Caucus, argued North Dakota should establish its own day to commemorate the end of slavery rather than adopting an event that he said was pushed by a left-wing political movement over the last year.

Matthew Ruby, R-Minot. The sponsors of the Juneteenth bill, Mathern and Holmberg, are the same bipartisan pair who successfully backed legislation to recognize the third Monday in January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day inabout seven years after it was established as a federal holiday.

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Crime and Courts. Government and Politics Bill to make Juneteenth a North Dakota holiday advances out of House North Dakota is one of just three states that doesn't recognize Juneteenth, a commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, as a holiday.

Written By: Adam Willis pm, Apr. Suggested Articles. Government and Politics. Businesses To Follow.