Illinois Legislature approves Juneteenth as a state holiday

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois is closer to making Juneteenth a state holiday. Legislation making June 19 a paid day off for all state employees and a school holiday was unanimously approved by the Illinois House last week and by the state Senate last month. It states that if June 19 falls on a Saturday or Sunday the holiday will be observed the following Monday. The meaure would take effect immediately if Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs it. Juneteenth commemorates the date in 1865 when the last enslaved Black people in the U.S. learned from Union soldiers in Texas that they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamaton was signed. The day is also known as Emancipaton Day and Freedom Day. 

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