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Colorado Democrats Introduce Bill to Make Juneteenth a New State Legal Holiday

March 2, 2022

Denver, CO – Today, Governor Jared Polis, bill sponsors, the Colorado Black Democratic Legislative Caucus, and advocates held a press conference to highlight and celebrate the introduction of [SB22-139](, legislation recognizing Juneteenth as the eleventh state holiday in Colorado. The bill is sponsored by Sen. James Coleman and Janet Buckner, and Rep. Leslie Herod, and was introduced in the Senate on February 24.


March 2, 2022


Phoebe Blessing
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Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Soldiers, led by Major General Gordan Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas and announced the end of the Civil War and declared that more than 250,000 enslaved Black people were free.

"Adopting Juneteenth as a State Holiday pays tribute to the millions of Black Americans who endured incredible suffering under the horrors of slavery, but just as important, we elevate the celebration and the joy that this holiday has embodied in the Black community for more than 150 years," said Governor Polis. "We're grateful to our state employees and Colorado WINS, to the legislators, and everyone who has contributed to bringing this bill forward. I'm proud to stand today among champions for progress that’s long overdue to move our state forward together.”

“Juneteenth has long been celebrated in Black communities as America’s second independence day, but most Americans still know little or nothing about the history and celebration of the day,” said Rep. Herod. “By making Juneteenth a legal holiday across the State of Colorado, we hope to rectify that. June 19th should be celebrated and hailed as a monumental and historic day by Coloradans, and that’s exactly what this bill aims to do. We wouldn’t be here without the advocacy of Colorado WINS, who negotiated their first contract with the State last year incredibly successfully, and pushed hard for recognition of Juneteenth as a state holiday.”

“Juneteenth is more than just a federal holiday we recognize in historical Black communities like Five Points where we march, eat good food and listen to good music,” said Sen. Coleman. “Making Juneteenth a state holiday means Colorado not only recognizes that Black people are free, but that all people are free. It is a recognition that we not only desire for some Coloradans to prosper, but for all to prosper, and for all Coloradans, regardless of race or background, to earn a living wage, have an affordable place to call home, and get the equitable access to healthcare and education people need to move forward and thrive.”

“To me, Juneteenth commemorates the end of the historic practices of slavery and honors freedom for all of us,” said Sen. Buckner, “and we must never forget our past.”

Members of Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions (WINS), the union that negotiated their historic first contract with the State of Colorado last year and won a provision to make Juneteenth a state holiday, also spoke at the press conference.

"I’m thrilled to be standing here today with our Governor and amazing bill sponsors, who are working to pass legislation to make Juneteenth as a state holiday,” said Skip Miller, an IT Specialist at the Colorado School of Mines and the President of Colorado WINS. “This is a critical part of our broader commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and movement to increase fairness and equality in our state agencies.”

"I know unions are how we could make a real difference - working people coming together as one to win better jobs for state employees, and better public services for Coloradans,” added Tanesha McQueen, Youth Service Specialist at Marvin Foote Youth Service Center. “I'm proud to see our work from the negotiating table start to pay off with this bill.”

“Juneteenth celebrates the day that all Americans were free,” said Norman Harris, president of the Juneteenth Music Festival Corporation. “Recognizing it as a state holiday gives our community the opportunity to acknowledge and more fully understand the impacts of slavery and systemic racism, while fostering community healing through celebration of our African American culture. We are proud to stand with our leaders today to advocate for Juneteenth to become a state holiday.”