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Sen. Casey calls for Juneteenth to be declared a federal holiday

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
U.S. Senator Bob Casey meets with The York Dispatch staff Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. Bill Kalina photo

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on Friday joined a growing movement to declare Juneteenth a federal holiday, a day that commemorates the emancipation of slaves.

Casey's call to make June 19 a national holiday came two days after Gov. Tom Wolf declared it a state holiday, joining 45 other states and Washington, D.C.

Hawaii, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana are the states yet to do so.

"Though Juneteenth celebrations may look different this year, the significance of the day is not diminished," Casey wrote in a news release. "Let us celebrate and elevate our Black communities, and let us use this day to reflect on the work that remains to conquer racism in America"

Juneteenth commemorates the freeing of the last slaves in the former Confederacy.

President Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation in 1862. But, especially in Texas, many slaves weren’t informed of their freedom until after the Civil War’s end about three years later.

That’s when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger pronounced that all slaves were free on June 19, 1865, shortly after he assumed command of a post in Galveston.

The movement to declare Juneteenth a national holiday has gained momentum following recent racial unrest in the U.S.

The first event that grabbed national attention came last month, when George Floyd, 46, died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

More recently, in the midst of national protests over Floyd's death, an Atlanta police officer on June 12 shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, 27, at a Wendy's drive-thru.

"This Juneteenth, and every day, Black Lives Matter," Casey wrote.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.