• 48°

Senate approves bill making Juneteenth paid Ohio holiday

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Juneteenth, the day marking the official end of slavery in the United States, would become an official paid state holiday in Ohio under legislation approved by the Ohio Senate.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, Texas, were told they were free. Multiple states including Ohio recognize the day but it’s only a paid holiday in Texas.

Ohioans need a time to reflect on Juneteenth, said co-sponsor Sen. Andrew Brenner, a Republican from suburban Columbus.

“We owe it to future generations to remind them that we were once a nation deeply divided, and landmark the moments where we began to come together as one,” Brenner said.

Declaring Juneteeth a paid state holiday would allow Ohioans to celebrate everyone’s independence, said co-sponsor Sen. Hearcel Craig, a Columbus Democrat.

“We cannot lose sight of how far racial equity has come and how long the road is ahead for racial justice,” Craig said.

The bill approved Wednesday goes next to the Ohio House. A message was left with that chamber’s majority Republican spokeswoman seeking comment on the legislation.