Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday signed a proclamation declaring June 19 as Juneteenth Day, commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. Ivey’s proclamation notes that Alabama in 2012 became the 40th state to recognize Juneteenth through legislation introduced by former state Sen. Hank Sanders.
Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, when a Union Army general freed enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Ivey’s decision to honor Juneteenth comes after hundreds gathered in Birmingham on June 19, 2020, the summer that saw the proliferation of protests and demonstrations calling for an end to police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer.
Ivey’s proclamation also comes as Alabama and other southern states continue to grapple with the push to remove monuments to the Confederacy, and rename buildings and schools named in honor of the Confederacy.
Ivey signed the proclamation three days after a state holiday commemorating the birthday of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Alabama also recognizes the state holidays of Confederate Memorial Day, celebrated in April, and Robert E. Lee’s birthday, celebrated the same day as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.