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Iowa Juneteenth proclamation signed in second year of federal observance

By: - June 20, 2022 12:56 pm

Gov. Kim Reynolds proclaims the celebration of Juneteenth in Iowa on June 20, 2022. (Screenshot from governor’s livestream of the signing)

Gov. Kim Reynolds proclaimed the celebration of Juneteenth in Iowa Monday in the second year of the holiday’s recognition nationally.

Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, when Union general Gordon Granger and troops arrived to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865. Enforcements arrived more than two years after the proclamation was signed.

Iowa established the holiday celebrating Black history and freedom in the United States in 2002, signed into law by former Gov. Tom Vilsack. The holiday is an official day of recognition in the state, observed on the third Saturday of June each year.

“I’m deeply grateful that it’s working so tirelessly to ensure Juneteenth has the prominent place in our collective memory that it deserves,” Reynolds said. “And that as a nation, we can now observe it together as a national holiday.”

In 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. While the official celebration was June 19, a Saturday, federal offices are closed Monday for the holiday’s observation.

Iowa Juneteenth Observance, a group organizing celebrations, held and supported events from June 2 through 20th in the Des Moines area.  Ankeny hosted its second Juneteenth Festival this year on Saturday. Des Moines public libraries held several events with Iowa Juneteenth organizers on the history and celebration of the event. The Des Moines Art Center opened up for a “Black’d Out Book Drive.”

Iowa has celebrated Juneteenth for more than two decades longer than the nation at large. But following 2020 protests over Black civil liberties, Iowa’s celebrations have gotten much larger. Reynolds praised the years of work Juneteenth organizers have done in observance of the holiday in Iowa.

“I want to thank the Iowa Juneteenth Observance for everything it does to preserve the legacy of this pivotal event in our country’s history for future generations,” Reynolds said at the signing.

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. Robin has experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald, in addition to working on multimedia projects, newsletters and visualizations. They were a political reporter for the Des Moines Register covering the Iowa caucuses leading up to the 2020 presidential election, assisting with the Register's Iowa Poll, and reporting on Iowa's 4th District elections.

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