BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards is shutting down state offices early Friday, giving workers a half-day off in honor of Juneteenth, the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
The Democratic governor recently signed a bill by Rep. Larry Selders, a Baton Rouge Democrat, making Juneteenth a legal state holiday.
“This is an important part of American history, commemorating the day those who had been enslaved in the United States learned of their freedom. There are meaningful lessons for everyone to learn," Edwards said in a statement.
The new law designates the third Saturday in June as Juneteenth Day. Starting in 2022, all state offices will be closed the Friday before that Saturday, according to the governor's office.
Juneteenth — which officially falls on June 19 — honors the day in 1865 when enslaved Blacks in Texas were freed with the arrival of federal troops. Though slavery was not completely abolished until the 13th Amendment, which came six months later, Juneteenth has come to symbolize the end of slavery.