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State offices closed Friday for Juneteenth holiday

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri state offices will be closed Friday in recognition of Juneteenth, the first new federal holiday to be enacted in nearly four decades. 

President Joe Biden signed a bill into law Thursday afternoon establishing the holiday, the first new federal day of recognition since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983. Gov. Mike Parson joined other state leaders around the country in ordering the closure for state offices. 

“All state offices will be closed tomorrow to celebrate Juneteenth, our nation’s new holiday. It is our first new national holiday in almost 40 years,” Office of Administration Commissioner Sarah Steelman said in an email to state employees. “Please join me in the national celebration of this important event in the history of our nation.” 

The U.S. Senate unanimously signed off on the bill Tuesday, and the House gave its approval Wednesday. While the holiday is on Saturday this year, most federal employees were given Friday off in recognition. 

The holiday recognizes June 19, 1865, the day Union Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas, in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation enacted two years earlier. 

 Juneteenth has been recognized in Missouri as Emancipation Day since 2003. The statute requested all offices of government and educational, religious, commercial, and fraternal organizations to devote part of the day to recognize the holiday. The law requested these groups “devote some part of the day to remember the proclamation that began the full realization for all people in the United States of the self-evident truth, as stated in the Declaration of Independence of the United States, that all men are created equal.”

The bill also established the Missouri Juneteenth Heritage and Jazz Festival and Memorial to recognize the struggles and hardships of those who had been enslaved; this year’s festival will take place Saturday in Kansas City.