Kentucky governor signs proclamation recognizing Juneteenth

MIDWAY, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed a proclamation Thursday recognizing Juneteenth and said he will encourage lawmakers to pass a bill next year to recognize it as a state holiday.

Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free 155 years ago. On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger led Union soldiers into Galveston, Texas, to bring news that the Civil War had ended and that all enslaved African Americans were free.

“During these times when again we have heard voices and we have seen the frustration of hundreds of years of ramifications of slavery, discriminations, Jim Crow, of segregation, I think it’s more and more important that we remind everybody of this dark chapter in our history and that its impacts continue to linger,” Beshear said. “We should celebrate the dates that at least portions of that dark chapter ended.”

On Wednesday, the small Kentucky city of Midway made Juneteenth an official holiday, the Courier Journal reported. Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the move is a way to honor black residents in the city and to bring people together for more than just a conversation about equality.

“It’s become clear that while talking is good, it’s just never gonna be enough,” Vandegrift said. “We got to do more than talking. So what’s one little way that a small city of 1,811 people can help? And that’s to take some action. And I think, hopefully, set some kind of precedent that I hope we see spread around the state.”