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Juneteenth recognized as official Massachusetts holiday

Gov. Charlie Baker signed a supplemental budget bill on Friday that included the establishment of the June 19 state holiday.

A stylized American Black Lives Matter flag flies during a Juneteenth rally in Boston. Michael Dwyer / AP

It’s official — Juneteenth is now an annual state holiday in Massachusetts. 

Juneteenth Independence Day, on June 19, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the anniversary of Union soldiers arriving in Galveston, Texas in 1865 — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation — to tell enslaved people the Civil War was over and they were free. 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a supplemental budget bill on Friday that included the establishment of Juneteenth Independence Day as an annual state holiday “in order to recognize the continued need to ensure racial freedom and equality.”

According to the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the Juneteenth holiday for Massachusetts was created under the same category as Memorial Day, July Fourth, and Labor Day. The statute doesn’t address state employee working hours or compensation for those holidays.

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The push to establish Juneteenth as an official holiday gained renewed attention this year with national protests demanding action to address systemic racism and police violence following the death of George Floyd.

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