WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Idaho Republican Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are supporting a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
They have joined a bipartisan coalition of 48 U.S. senators in introducing S. 4019.
If approved by Congress, the federal government would observe the holiday in parity with Idaho's existing recognition of the celebration.
"Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of ending slavery in the United States," Crapo and Risch said in a joint statement. "The period of slavery in America stained our nation's promise of liberty and justice for all. Juneteenth celebrates an end to this shameful period, recognizes the contributions of Black American culture and marks a renewed commitment to ensuring the reality of equality and opportunity for all Americans."
Juneteenth is observed on June 19. It was on that day in 1865 when Union Army General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas that slaves were free. The news came nearly two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
The following year, June 19 was celebrated as the anniversary of their emancipation. Since then, Juneteeth has been observed and celebrated across the country for the past 155 years.
Idaho is among 46 states, and the District of Columbia that recognize Juneteenth as either a state holiday or a day of observance.
In 2001, Idaho became the fifth state to do so under Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.
Earlier this month, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed a proclamation officially recognizing June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day.