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Governor Kelly celebrates Juneteenth at Kansas Statehouse

2024 marks first year as a state holiday

TOPEKA — Governor Laura Kelly joined the Kansas African American Affairs Commission today to celebrate Juneteenth at the Statehouse. This marks the first year Juneteenth is observed as a state holiday.

“Juneteenth is a time to celebrate the progress we have made and acknowledge the ongoing struggles for racial equality,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Kansans have long observed this significant turning point in our nation’s history, and celebrating Juneteenth as a state holiday provides time for reflection.”

Governor Kelly designated Juneteenth a state holiday in October 2023 and has issued proclamations recognizing Juneteenth every year since 2020. In observance of the holiday, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, Executive Branch state offices under Governor Kelly’s authority will be closed.

“The path to having Juneteenth become a state holiday was paved long before me,” said Stacey Knoell, Executive Director of the Kansas African American Affairs Commission. “I know many advocates, legislators, and Kansans were striving for this recognition. I am glad it has become a reality.”

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day the last enslaved Americans received word that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation to abolish slavery more than two years before the end of the Civil War.

In 2021, Juneteenth became the first federal holiday created in more than 40 years.

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