Updated Jun 20, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Only 18 states have made Juneteenth a state holiday

A motorcade of people celebrating Juneteenth in Los Angeles in 2021.

Juneteenth is celebrated in Los Angeles in 2021. Photo: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A year after President Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth the 11th federal holiday, 32 states have not passed legislation to recognize it as a state holiday, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Why it matters: Because Juneteenth is not recognized as a holiday in a majority of states, many state employees across the country are not allowed to take a paid vacation day to observe the holiday, which celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S.

  • Juneteenth recognizes the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas officially learned they'd been freed two years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation.

By the numbers: All 50 states either commemorate or observe Juneteenth but only 18 observe it as a permanent paid state holiday, those being Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

  • In the private sector, Juneteenth will be a paid holiday for about 30% of private employers in the country this year, Axios' Kelly Tyko reports.
  • Because Juneteenth falls on a Sunday this year, Monday is when many businesses, the federal government and those states will officially recognize it.

The big picture: Opponents of legislation to allocate funding to make Juneteenth a permanent state holiday have argued that it would be too expensive to give state employees another paid day off and that not enough people celebrate it, according to the New York Times.

  • Americans now are more familiar with Juneteenth than they were a year ago, according to a new Gallup poll, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez reports.
  • 17% of those surveyed in Gallup's recent poll said they know "a lot" about Juneteenth, 42% said they know "some," 29% "a little bit" and 11% said they know "nothing at all."

Go deeper: A guide on celebrating Juneteenth in America

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Saturday June 18th.

Go deeper