Juneteenth Nevada Lawmaker, Sponsor See Justice In Holiday

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The nation celebrated Juneteenth on Saturday, memorializing the end of slavery in the United States. In Nevada, the date has been observed for a decade.

“We should know the true history of America,” said former Nevada Assemblyman Harvey Munford, now 80, a longtime Las Vegas-area educator who sponsored a bill that passed the 2011 state Legislature to mark the date.

He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he saw a long-term teaching tool in the commemoration of the post-Civil War date — June 19, 1865 — when slaves in Galveston, Texas, finally learned from Union soldiers that they were free.

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered two months earlier, and President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years before that: Jan. 1, 1863.

This year, Juneteenth was formally recognized in 49 states and the District of Columbia, after President Joe Biden signed a bill Thursday making it a federal holiday.

Munford called the signing “a great day for social justice around the country.”

“It was time for it to happen, so we got it,” said Deborah ‘Dee’ Evans, founder of National Juneteenth Observation Foundation Nevada and an advocate for the holiday since 2006.

“You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going,” she told the Review-Journal. “And Juneteenth kind of illustrates that.”