DOVER — Gov. John Carney signed legislation Wednesday making Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, a state holiday that recognizes the official end of slavery in America.
Sponsored by Rep. Sherry Dorsey Walker, House Bill 119, was signed during a community breakfast event featuring Opal Lee, a civil rights leader widely regarded as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.”
In 2016, Ms. Lee, then 89 years old, walked 1,400 miles from her home in Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington to advocate for making Juneteenth a national holiday.
Earlier this year, Ms. Lee was present when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.
Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans in the United States were emancipated, on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
HB 119 is part of the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus’ Justice for All Agenda, a multi-step plan unveiled in June 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and in response to a nationwide movement for racial justice and police reform.