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Educators' unions call for efforts to ensure in-person learning keeps students, teachers, families, and staff safe; and an update on hate crimes by state.

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Oregon to Mark Juneteenth, US's 'Other Independence Day'

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Monday, June 14, 2021   

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon lawmakers have passed a bill recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday.

Celebrated June 19, the holiday marks the day in 1865 when Union troops landed in Galveston, Texas and informed people enslaved in the state that they were free, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

Rawle Andrews, Jr., regional vice president for AARP, explained the significance of the holiday.

"So, from that harsh reality of not only enslavement but prolonged enslavement after freedom's bell had rang, we now celebrate Juneteenth as one of the great pillars of freedom in the United States," Andrews stated,

Andrews pointed out the holiday is a time for people to reflect on our history, and the work that still needs to be done towards racial justice. Juneteenth will become a paid state holiday in Oregon starting in 2022.

Andrews noted the Oregon legislation achieved quite a feat in this polarized political environment.

"Oregon will be able to say, unlike a lot of other states, they passed the law unanimously," Andrews recounted.

As far as celebrating the holiday, Andrews suggested we should think of it the same way we think of July 4th.

"We need to be comfortable doing the exact same things on Juneteenth, with one caveat," Andrews urged. "And the caveat is a recognition that a lot of blood, sweat and tears on top of blood, sweat and tears went into making what we now know as Juneteenth, June 19th, a reality."

During the 2021 legislative session, Washington state also passed legislation marking Juneteenth as a state holiday.

Disclosure: AARP Oregon contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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