FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: May 3, 2022
CONTACT: Madeleine Schmidt
DENVER – A bill signed into law yesterday by Colorado Governor Jared Polis designates Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery, as Colorado’s 11th state holiday to celebrate Black people’s freedom and resistance in our nation.
The legislation comes after Colorado WINS negotiated the recognition of Juneteenth as a state holiday in its first contract with the state last year. The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and freed the country’s last remaining enslaved people more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The bill, SB-139, is sponsored by Representative Leslie Herod (D-Denver) and Senators Janet Buckner (D-Aurora) and James Coleman (D-Denver).
“Juneteenth is not just an important day in Black History, but American History, and one that deserves to be recognized,” said Colorado WINS President Skip Miller. “I’m proud of the work state employees have done to negotiate this holiday as part of our first contract with Colorado and ensure that the state we call home honors and celebrates such an important holiday. This victory is a great example of what can be achieved when working people and elected officials come together. Thank you to Colorado lawmakers and Governor Polis for seeing this work through.”
“In making Juneteenth an official state holiday, we honor our history, our freedom, and the perseverance of our Black ancestors,” said Rep. Herod, bill sponsor and Chairwoman of the Black Democratic Legislative Caucus of Colorado. “I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this effort with Colorado WINS to give Juneteenth the recognition it deserves in Colorado.”
“Colorado now has an official state holiday on Juneteenth to celebrate Black peoples’ freedom and resistance, and center Black peoples’ unique contribution to justice in our society,” said Colorado WINS member Tanesha McQueen. “We’re honored to be a part of this effort to ensure Juneteenth is celebrated and never forgotten in Colorado and thank Governor Polis and Colorado lawmakers for playing such a critical role in achieving this victory.”
As part of a broader commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in Colorado, Colorado WINS also negotiated the creation of a task force to study pay equity among state employees and make recommendations to close pay gaps in its contract with the state. Polis signed HB 1196 into law in March to fund this research.
The federal government made Juneteenth an official holiday last year. Colorado now joins at least nine other states in recognizing the holiday in state law.
A bill signing ceremony was held yesterday afternoon at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance in Denver.
Colorado WINS is the union representing more than 25,000 classified state employees who work to ensure our quality of life in communities across the state and provide essential services to more than 5.6 million Coloradans.