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This year for the first time, Juneteenth will be celebrated as a state holiday. Governor Baker signed this into law on July 24, 2020, to recognize “the continued need to ensure racial freedom and equality.” Juneteenth is an annual celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It signifies the day – June 19, 1865 – on which the last slaves were freed. Of note is the fact that this happened more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

Juneteenth is a state holiday in 48 out of 50 states, as well as in Washington, D.C. Congress voted on Wednesday to make Juneteenth a federal holiday – something that will happen next year. While Juneteenth traditionally commemorates African American freedom, it also is a time to emphasize education and achievement. The holiday is an opportunity to reflect on our nation’s history and to celebrate the contributions of all of our citizens. It is a chance to shine a light on the strength of the human spirit and to begin to make a wrong right by working toward a more equitable future for all Americans.

Many will be off on Friday, June 18th in observance of the holiday. State employees will get a floating day off and state offices will remain open. Private sector businesses can decide whether or not to offer the day off to employees. Many are encouraging their staff to use their day off to learn about the past, to enact positive change, and to celebrate African American culture.

In Massachusetts Juneteenth will be celebrated in a myriad of ways from church services to art displays and much more. Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year and is a perfect time for all consumers to show support to Black-owned businesses by patronizing them.

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