Juneteenth National Freedom Day

February 9, 2009

On Friday, I introduced legislation creating a civic holiday to commemorate African-American emancipation. HB 340 would designate the third Saturday in June as Juneteenth National Freedom Day.

This tribute will allow us to instill a deeper appreciation and understanding of our history in a new generation of Montanans.

Our nation paid an enormous price to fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence by bringing the scourge of human slavery to an end in our country.

In Billings, and in many other Montana communities, we have continued to make a concerted, intentional, and bipartisan effort to fight against racism. Yet messages of hate, anger, and terror still spread. As a community, we have learned that it is important to take every opportunity to make unambiguous statements that we are committed to an inclusive and welcoming community.

By passing this legislation, we can say to such hate: Not in our towns, not in our state.

HB 340 would let our state join 27 others who have honored this holiday, allowing us to recognize our history. When Wilmot Collins testified at HB 340’s hearing, I think he put it best:

“This will be a day of education, this will be a day of celebration.”


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