SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois government offices will be closed Friday in a nod to a new federal law, making Juneteenth an official holiday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday.
The decision by Pritzker supersedes a state law signed Wednesday by the governor that would have made June 19 a state holiday next year. Because the day falls on Sunday in 2022, the first paid state holiday would have occurred in 2023.
President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday during a bill-signing ceremony at the White House.
“I’m pleased to see the federal government join Illinois in recognizing Juneteenth as an official holiday, offering all Americans a day to reflect on the national shame of slavery and the work we must do to dismantle systemic racism,” Pritzker said in a statement.
Juneteenth marks the 1865 date when the last enslaved Black people learned from Union soldiers in Texas that they were free. That was more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Juneteenth is the first federal holiday since the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was created in 1983.
While many states commemorate the ending of slavery, only some observe Juneteenth as an official holiday. The number has grown following last summer’s reckoning over racial injustice, most recently including Maine and Washington.