LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a proclamation declaring June 19th as Juneteenth Celebration Day in Michigan. Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when slavery was abolished in the United States.
“Juneteenth is a crucial day in our nation’s history to remember how far we have come and recognize how far we still have to go,” said Governor Whitmer. “During a time when communities of color are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and when the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have shone a light on the systemic racism Black Americans face every day, we must work together to build a more equitable and just Michigan. I’m proud to declare June 19, 2020 as Juneteenth Celebration Day, and will continue to work tirelessly to create a state that is equal for all.”
“We have seen Michiganders across the state continue to fight for their freedom and the freedom of others,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “This day, which marks when the final group of Black Americans understood that they were free, is an important reminder of the work that must continue to be done to deliver equity and opportunity to every community. I am committed to working every day to build a state that is representative and responsive to the people we serve.”
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Juneteenth originated on June 19, 1865, when Union Army General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, where he read General Order #3, stating that all slaves were free, and that former masters and slaves were absolutely equal in personal and property rights. Acting as the date of emancipation, June 19th also became a long-standing day of celebration, meant to honor African-American resilience and the end of slavery.
Since day one, both Governor Whitmer and Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II have been committed to making Michigan a more equitable state. The governor appointed the most diverse cabinet in Michigan’s history to ensure that government is more representative of all Michiganders. During her State of the State Address this year, Governor Whitmer called for implicit bias training for all healthcare and medical professionals to combat racism felt across the healthcare industry. The governor also called on the legislature to expand health care for low-income mothers to improve health outcomes for every mom and baby.
After Governor Whitmer negotiated the budget last year, the state has implemented a weighed foundation formula, which ensures school funding is based on equity and science. And recently, the governor’s administration negotiated a landmark literacy case where a Michigan court ruled that every child, no matter their community, has a birthright to a path to literacy.
Over the last several weeks, the governor added four seats to The Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES), including the Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, to bring more community voices to the table as the commission considers police reforms for our state. The governor also requested that MCOLES provide guidance to law enforcement agencies on continuing education that will help officers keep up with the everchanging landscape of new laws and issues facing the community, including diversity and implicit bias training.
Additionally, the governor has encouraged police departments to participate in efforts that are underway on comprehensive reporting on the use of force by police departments and urged law enforcement agencies to implement duty to intervene polices.
To view the full proclamation click the link below: