A bill to make Juneteenth a South Carolina holiday that was proposed more than a year ago will finally be heard by state senators at its first hearing Wednesday.
Senators also will discuss whether to make Election Day a state holiday.
Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865.
Slaves were legally freed under the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, but news of President Abraham Lincoln’s declaration did not reach all enslaved African Americans until later. Juneteeth also is referred to as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.”
If Jackson’s bill were to pass, Juneteenth would become an official state holiday in South Carolina, requiring state agencies, public colleges and universities to observe it.
In 2018, June 19 was designated as “Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom Day” in South Carolina, but lawmakers stopped short of making it a legal holiday.
Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth, though most states do not recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday.
Juneteenth is a federal holiday.
Last June, President Joe Biden signed the move into law, calling it one of the greatest honors of his presidency. The bill was passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate and passed the U.S. House by a vote of 415-14.
U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, was the only South Carolina Republican to vote against it.