Gov. Lamont signs law creating Juneteenth state holiday

With a replica of the historic Amistad slave ship in the backdrop, Gov. Ned Lamont signed a law Friday creating a new Juneteenth state holiday.

John Craven

Jun 10, 2022, 9:32 PM

Updated 710 days ago

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With a replica of the historic Amistad slave ship in the backdrop, Gov. Ned Lamont signed a law Friday creating a new Juneteenth state holiday.
“We'll remember that every day in this country, we strive to form a more perfect union,” he said.
On June 19, 1865, Texas slaves became the last in America to be freed. It came more than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The day is already a federal holiday.
"And we should note, the reason the numbers were going up is because people were fleeing my home state of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia -- taking their slaves to Texas, because Texas was so big and ignored the rules,” said Lonnie Braxton, who went from a segregated high school in the South to become the New London state's attorney.
Connecticut holds its own place in African-American history. In 1839, captive slaves took over the Amistad. The ship was towed to New London, where the slaves eventually won their freedom – helped by Connecticut abolitionists. Steven Spielberg portrayed the event in an Oscar-nominated 1997 film.
For historian Sara Chaney, it's deeply personal.
"My grandmother was born to freed slaves,” she said. “She was born seven years after the Emancipation Proclamation."
Connecticut is making slow strides in teaching African-American history. Beginning this fall, high schools must offer a class in Black and Latino studies. But it's only an elective.
"This is our history. We need to own it,” said Norwich NAACP president Shiela Hayes. “But we need to make sure that we ensure that the correct history is taught to our children and all the children in the school system."
But challenges remain. Connecticut’s teaching corps is overwhelmingly white. The state now offers incentives to increase minority recruitment in the classroom, a priority for Lamont.
"I'm proud to celebrate Juneteenth as a holiday, and more proud to make sure that we make sure it's a learning day,” said Lamont.
Friday’s event was a ceremonial signing. Lamont signed the actual bill on May 27, but the new holiday doesn’t take effect until 2023.
The federal Juneteenth holiday will be observed this year. Since June 19 falls on a Sunday, federal offices will close on Monday.


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