Governor Kelly Commemorates First Official Juneteenth State Holiday in Kansas

By Trish Svoboda

Governor Laura Kelly joined the Kansas African American Affairs Commission at the Statehouse on Monday to commemorate Juneteenth, the first year it is officially 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 declared Juneteenth a state holiday in October 2023 and has issued annual proclamations recognizing it since 2020.

“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 honors June 19, 1865, when the final enslaved Americans learned of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which officially ended slavery more than two years after the Civil War’s conclusion. In 2021, Juneteenth became the first federal holiday established in over 40 years.

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