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Alaska Officially Recognizes Juneteenth as State Holiday

by CiCi
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed Senate Bill 22 into law on Thursday, establishing Juneteenth as an official state holiday in Alaska. This move aligns Alaska with federal recognition and joins numerous other states and municipalities in commemorating June 19th.

Juneteenth celebrates the arrival of Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, when he announced the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Known by various names such as Black Independence Day and Freedom Day, Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021 and a municipal holiday in Anchorage in 2023.

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“This is a historic moment,” said Celeste Hodge Growden, president and CEO of the Alaska Black Caucus, reflecting on the significance of the legislation’s signing. “It marks a milestone in our history, and I’m honored to have witnessed the governor’s commitment to acknowledging this pivotal part of America’s past.”

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Rep. Stanley Wright, a sponsor of SB 22, described the event as “monumental,” underscoring the importance of recognizing and validating the contributions of all Alaskans.

While the bill faced opposition over concerns about costs, including an estimated $950,000 annually to pay state employees on the holiday, supporters like Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson emphasized the value of commemorating freedom. “You cannot put a price on celebrating freedom,” Gray-Jackson asserted, highlighting the bipartisan effort that ultimately led to the bill’s passage.

Juneteenth will be observed as an official paid state holiday in Alaska starting June 19, 2025.

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