HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Rep. Sue Helm (R-Dauphin/Lebanon) establishing Juneteenth National Freedom Day as an official annual observance in Pennsylvania was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on Monday. House Bill 619
will next be considered by the Senate.
“Juneteenth is the oldest commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States that is observed nationally,” said Helm. “It is a time that is set aside to celebrate African-American freedom by emphasizing education and achievement.”
Helm’s bill would provide for the annual designation of June 19 as Juneteenth National Freedom Day in Pennsylvania. By doing so, governmental entities, civic organizations and schools would be encouraged to observe the day, with an emphasis on the meaning and importance of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The observance dates to June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned they were free, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. At least 37 other states observe Juneteenth National Freedom Day.
Helm was the prime sponsor of similar legislation passed by the House during the three previous legislative sessions.
Representative Sue Helm
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Andy Briggs