ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Around the country, people are commemorating the Juneteenth holiday.
Illinois is celebrating in a special way. The day is normally celebrated every June 19th.
Union General Gordon Granger rode down to Galveston, Texas, to tell slaves they were free. The ride came two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
All but four states celebrate the holiday currently.
Wednesday morning, Governor Pritzker signed a proclamation in support of the holiday, ensuring the day will always be relevant here.
While Juneteenth is celebrated around the country, it is not a national holiday yet.
Some around Springfield, like Juneteenth Celebration organizer Shawn Gregory, said they are pushing for the holiday to be recognized on the federal level.
“Springfield, Illinois will set the tone to display an example of how important Juneteenth is. It is our belief that it really completes the full circle of freedom. We can’t celebrate July 4th, Independence Day, without celebrating Juneteenth. Our organization will join in the efforts to make this a national holiday,” said Gregory.
Ezra Casey is the minister of music at Pleasant Grove Baptist in Springfield. His choir performed songs of the Civil Rights Movement with folk guitarist Chris Vallillo as a part of a Juneteenth celebration in the Land of Lincoln.
Like many others around the country, Casey said he really did not know much about Juneteenth growing up but by learning about it through different events like Gregory’s, he now understands the magnitude of the holiday.
“Knowing that those who came before us, who worked so hard and also bled for us, you know actually died for us, to have opportunities. As an African, that means a lot to me personally.”
The U.S. Senate passed a resolution to make the day national holiday but it hasn’t passed the House yet.