North Dakota, South Dakota, and Hawaii are the only states that do not recognize or recognize Juneteenth, also known as Black Independence Day and Emancipation Day, as a national holiday.
It’s not a federal holiday, but the states introduced it to celebrate the freedom of black Americans from slavery. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger traveled to Galveston, Texas, and proclaimed the end of Civil War and slavery. according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.
Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation almost two and a half years before Granger’s announcement, June 19 or June 10 is considered the end of slavery as some slave owners continued to have slaves and work after Lincoln’s speech, the report says.
“We are all Americans and we should all value our history,” said Claudie Washington, an executive committee member of the NAACP’s Duluth, Minnesota office. “We have to understand that this story makes us who we are today.”
North Dakota is a largely white state, and about 3.5% of its population is black according to US Census estimates.
For North Dakota to officially recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday, lawmakers would have to pass a bill by majority vote by the House and Senate.
“Little did I know (Junieenth) was a holiday at all,” said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson. “Never heard of it.”
House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, also said he did not know what the holiday was, but if a legislature came up with a bill recognizing Juniteenth as a holiday, the “bill would get a full hearing if it passed.” no doubt. “
Protesters have planned a peaceful protest that will begin on June 10th in Fargo Island Park. They plan to march to town hall after weeks of tension between local authorities and activists and demand justice.
Tamara Halvorson, of Wyndmere, North Dakota, said she and her husband had never heard of Juneteenth until they heard about it on the news last week. She said she was surprised because she never knew about the holidays in all of her high school and college education.
Halvorson said she hopes others like her who don’t know what Juneteenth is can take the time to do their own research.
“On Friday this is a chance for everyone to maybe learn a little more and maybe the more we … learn about each other, the more we will appreciate each other,” she said.
Last week, President Donald Trump announced that he would hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 10th. This news sparked widespread backlash as many felt it was insensitive to hold the rally that killed up to 300 people in the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. Trump bowed to the pressure and announced that his campaign rally would be postponed to Saturday, June 20.
Although North Dakota is a predominantly white state and there are those who are uneducated about the holiday, Washington said racism is the underlying factor behind why some states and some people don’t celebrate June 16. But he said he thought they should.
“The purpose of this holiday is to value one another as human beings,” Washington said. “You can be anything you can be and I can be anything I can be and we’re all bigger and America is bigger because of that.”
Readers can reach forum reporter Michelle Griffith, a member of the Report for America Corps, at [email protected]