The Senate State Affairs Committee heard a invoice Tuesday that will make Juneteenth a state vacation in Alaska.
Juneteenth is already a nationwide vacation. It commemorates the day when enslaved individuals in Galveston discovered from a Union soldier that they had been free — greater than two months after the top of the Civil Conflict. The vacation is acknowledged nationally, and by 24 different states, on June 19.
Sen. Elvi Grey-Jackson, D-Anchorage, first launched the same invoice in 2021, nevertheless it was referred to committee and didn’t advance. She launched SB 22 at the beginning of this 12 months’s session.
On the listening to, she mentioned that this vacation — and the historical past behind it — has been ignored up to now.
“This second in our nation’s historical past exhibits the pressing want for historical past to be extra completely understood,” Grey-Jackson mentioned. “After we speak about America, we regularly take into consideration excessive beliefs like freedom and justice. By finding out Juneteenth, we are able to higher perceive how these concepts have merely not been utilized equally.”
Celeste Hodge Growden with the Alaska Black Caucus testified first on the invoice.
“Changing into a state vacation won’t merely give staff a break day. It can give residents a day to consider the longer term that we wish whereas remembering the inequities of the previous,” she mentioned.
Vikki Jo Kennedy of Juneau referred to as in to say she helps the invoice however was nervous that public transportation wouldn’t run on the vacation.
“The bulk of people that trip public transportation in our state alone, simply ours, are individuals of colour,” Kennedy mentioned.
Grey-Jackson labored on making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a paid vacation in Anchorage in 1999 when she was an Meeting employees member. The primary invoice she sponsored as a state senator established February as Black Historical past Month in Alaska and have become regulation in 2019.