Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday announced that she had authorized Friday, June 18, as holiday for state employees, following President Joe Biden’s declaration earlier in the day establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
“All state offices will be closed on that date, except those in areas where it is essential to maintain personnel,” Ivey wrote in the memorandum. “If it is necessary for any employee to work on that day, they should be allowed time off as soon thereafter as possible.”
Ivey on June 10 signed a proclamation declaring June 19 as Juneteenth Day in Alabama. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when a Union general read federal orders that enslaved people in Texas were then free, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
The U.S. House and Senate on Thursday passed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
U.S. representatives Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, and Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, both joined 12 other Republican lawmakers in voting against the legislation, according to NPR.
Brooks told AL.com he believes America should celebrate slaves gaining their freedom with a federal holiday, but he doesn’t think June 19 is appropriate, and the bill “should have been celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation or the passage of the 13th, 14th or 15th amendments or the end of the Civil War, any of which would have been dates of national significance rather than a date apportioned in one state.”
APR’s attempts to reach Rogers for comment Thursday were not immediately unsuccessful.