Wolf declares Juneteenth holiday throughout Pa.

Justin Udo
June 19, 2019 - 3:54 pm
Pennsylvania becomes the 45th state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, and the announcement comes with mixed reactions.

Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania becomes the 45th state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. 

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed into law in 1863, but it was not until June 19, 1865 when the last slaves in Galveston, Texas were told of the abolition of slavery.

That date is known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day and Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf declared it a holiday throughout the state.

Related: Germantown remembers, celebrates the 154th anniversary of Juneteenth

Juneteenth observances usually include the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and the singing of different black American hymns, and in Philadelphia, many observed the day at the African American Museum.

Hannah and Jihan were at the museum and say they're happy to see that the governor has made Juneteenth a holiday in the Commonwealth. 

"I think that's really exciting. I'm overwhelmed," said Hannah.

"I actually already considered it to be a holiday in Pennsylvania, so it goes right along with what it should be," Jihan added. 

Yvonne Haughton, also celebrating the day at the museum, says she hopes the declaration of the day as a holiday helps educate more people on what it's all about.

"I think it's pretty nice. I think it's really cool, but honestly I think it's more important that people recognize Juneteenth than to have it recognized as a statewide holiday," she said.

She also wants to see more done for the day than just a declaration.

"We can make something a state holiday, but if we still have to go to work and we still have to deal with the same conditions that we do on a regular basis, I don't see it making much difference," she added.

At the museum, crafts, history lessons and re-enactors took over and visitors celebrated the day.

"It's really a time to reflect if we celebrated 154 years ago. I think we might as well keep up the tradition," said Hannah Wallace, the museum's educational programming manager.

Wallace says not only is the day a chance to look at breaking free from slavery, they're also screening a film on reconstruction.

"So we're looking at the before and the after," she added.