For Immediate Release
Contact: Eddie Kurtz
Following Governor Kate Brown’s signing of HB 2168 to establish Juneteenth as an official state holiday, Dr. Rosa Colquitt, Democratic Party of Oregon Vice Chair and DPO Black Caucus Chair, released the following statement:
“We are overjoyed at the passage of this bill that establishes Juneteenth as an official state holiday in Oregon, commemorating the emancipation of slaves in Texas in June 1865, nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Oregon is the only state in America to have been established as an all-white state. Celebrating Juneteenth as a legal holiday in Oregon matters a great deal, and brings our state closer to reckoning with the present impacts of a past rooted in white supremacy.
“This can be a moment when our state acknowledges the trauma of 4 million enslaved people, while trying to understand that trauma through the eyes of their descendants. We can make it clear that, despite social progress for Black Americans, considerable barriers continue to impede true justice and equality. These barriers go beyond 300+ years of slavery, Jim Crow, and on-going white supremacy. They include sub-standard education, discrimination in housing, lack of economic investment in Black communities, disproportionate access to quality health care, and murder by law enforcement.
“We are thankful for the leadership of our Democratic legislators who made this possible, including Governor Kate Brown, State Senator Lew Frederick, House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner, State Representative Mark Meek, and the Oregon Legislature’s Black, Indigenous, & People of Color (BIPOC) Caucus.
“By choosing to remember the last state in the South that freedom finally touched, we celebrate the shining ‘promise of emancipation.’ Let June 19th in Oregon forever be a day of celebration for current and future generations, as well as a day to remember and acknowledge the bloody path America took by delaying freedom and deferring the fulfillment of the simple words of Union General Gordon Granger that ‘all slaves are free.'”
HB 2168 will take effect 91 days after the adjournment of the current legislative session. The first official Oregon celebration of Juneteenth as a state holiday will take place on June 19th, 2022.