Yancey, Gay-Dagnogo Bills Would Declare Juneteenth a State Holiday in Michigan, Allow Fireworks for Celebration

Friday, June 19, 2020
  • June 19, or Juneteenth, marks the end of slavery in the United States. 
  • Juneteenth commemorates the arrival of Union soldiers who brought news of the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery to Galveston, Texas in 1865. 
  • 2020 serves as the 155th annual celebration of Juneteenth.

LANSING, Mich., June 19, 2020 — State Reps. Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods) and Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) introduced two bills this week to declare June 19, or Juneteenth, as a legal state holiday in Michigan, and allow fireworks for its celebration, respectively. Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in the United States, first recognized as June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought news of the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery to Galveston, Texas. 

“Juneteenth has been celebrated by Black Americans for 155 years, but even to this day we are still dreaming of a future where we don’t have to continuously fight for freedom and equality,” said Yancey. “As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, we cannot allow ourselves to be pacified by more representation on Netflix, streets being painted or donations doled out by corporate sponsors; we need transformational change of the systems designed from the very beginning to oppress us. We need laws protecting the rights of our people and to open doors previously closed to us for economic growth.”

As a commemoration centered in freedom, Juneteenth holds significance comparable to Independence Day on July 4 for millions of African Americans across the country, which these bills aim to properly prioritize in the state of Michigan.

“For generations, we have recognized Juneteenth as a pivotal moment in history when African Americans were finally recognized as human beings by the American government. After centuries of enslavement and dehumanization, African Americans were finally free to begin their journey toward full and legal citizenship,” said Gay-Dagnogo. “Now we take up the mantle of our ancestors and continue the fight for equality.”

June 19, 2020, will serve as the 155th annual celebration of Juneteenth, which takes on many different forms, including religious services and storytelling, gatherings with music, food, parades and more.