In this June 19, 2020 photo, people taking part in a Juneteenth march travel down 23rd Ave. in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

In this June 19, 2020 photo, people taking part in a Juneteenth march travel down 23rd Ave. in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Juneteenth becomes official state paid holiday in 2022

It also became a federal holiday when President Biden signed it into law this week.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — President Joe Biden this week signed legislation establishing a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery — a move lawmakers made for Washington state earlier this year.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee last month signed a measure making Juneteenth a legal state paid holiday, starting in 2022. In 2007, the Legislature had designated Juneteenth as a day of remembrance.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also about 2½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.

It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. One of the federal holidays, Inauguration Day, happens every four years.

As Biden was signing into law Thursday the bill recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, a senior center in Seattle was already celebrating the traditional African American holiday.

Among the revelers was Larry Gossett, who is a former longtime King County councilmember and activist in Seattle.

“I think that kind of a recognition is long overdue. As an African-American who is a descendant of slaves from Texas, I am particularly thrilled by that recognition,” he said.

Lynda Greene, executive director of the Southeast Seattle Senior Center, said “we’re just glad that the rest of the country now is part of our celebration.”

Greene said the recognition was “bittersweet” for most American-Americans.

“It’s a reflection of where we’ve been as a country and to finally have a significant day acknowledged by the political folks here, that’s meaningful, but also celebrating Juneteenth brings back a lot of sad memories because I know that my grandparents and my great grandparents were part of that transition,” Green said. “So it makes me sad on one hand, but it makes me feel very, very proud that at least the nation is now understanding what Juneteenth is all about.”

Talk to us

More in Northwest

King County Sheriff: Staff must work remotely amid violence

It is unsafe around the courthouse, parking garage, administrative building jail in downtown Seattle.

Lighting starts 9 small fires across North Central Washington

A second potentially dangerous weather system is moving into the region.

Washington Supreme Court to hear Seattle police public records case

The court will hear a case involving officers who were in Washington, D.C., during the Capitol riot.

Colvilles sue federal government over 2015 wildfire damage

The Tribes say parts of the reservation in northeastern Washington were turned into a “moonscape.”

Brewster farm to pay more than $2 million after COVID deaths

It’s one of the largest workplace safety and health fines in state history.

FILE - This Nov. 13, 2018 file photo a South Lake Union streetcar with an advertisement for Amazon.com's same-day delivery service passes by an Amazon office building in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood. Amazon has pushed back its return-to-office date for tech and corporate workers until January 2022 as COVID-19 cases surge nationally due to the delta variant. The Seattle Times reported on the tech giant's delay in returning to offices from internal messages. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren,File)
Amazon pushes back return to office to January due to COVID

Amazon has pushed back its return-to-office date for workers until January as COVID-19 cases surge.

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2019, file photo, Bill and Melinda French Gates pose together in Kirkland, Wash.  The divorce of Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates has been finalized. The Microsoft co-founder and his wife announced in May 2021 they were ending their 27-year marriage and on Monday, Aug. 2,  a King County Superior Court judge signed the dissolution decree. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates finalize their divorce

The two have said they will continue to work together as co-chairs of their foundation.

Washington hospitals ‘quite full’ amid surge in COVID-19 cases

The unvaccinated continue to make up nearly all of the new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Wildfire burning in North Cascades park near Canadian border

The Bear Creek Fire is estimated to have burned about 150 acres.

Most Read