BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Governor John Bel Edwards announced Monday (June 13) that all state offices in Louisiana will close Friday, June 17 in observance of Juneteenth.
The national holiday is celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the U.S.
This marks the first year in Louisiana that all state offices will be closed in honor of the special day, which became a legal holiday in Louisiana in 2021.
Governor Edwards issued a statement regarding the holiday, saying, “Juneteenth honors the day when enslaved Americans learned of their freedom, which is an important moment in American history and an appropriate one to honor with a state holiday.”
He continued, “There is much work left to be done to ensure that all of our people are treated equally and fairly by the law, by our institutions and by each other, but it is my hope that Louisianans will take time on this day to reflect about the importance of freedom and equality and learn about the struggles of enslaved people in our country.”
Last year, Governor Edwards signed Act 128, which was sponsored by Rep. Larry Selders and co-authored by the entire Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.
The act designated the third Saturday in June as Juneteenth Day, a statewide holiday that recognized the day African Americans celebrate Emancipation Day.
Lawmakers decreed that beginning this year, all state offices will be closed the Friday before Saturday, June 19.
Juneteenth was initially celebrated in Galveston, Texas where enslaved people had been declared free under the terms of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.
Though they’d technically been declared free in 1863, some areas of the south were slow to adhere to the new law, and as a result, Juneteenth was not celebrated until the end of the civil war in 1865 when Union troops arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, and announced to the enslaved African Americans that they’d been freed.
Click here for a list of Juneteenth events that will be celebrated in and around the Baton Rouge area this week.