Alabama Governor Kay Ivey designates Juneteenth as a state holiday starting in 2024

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey gave the State of the State address on February 6, 2024, in Montgomery, Alabama.

In a memo sent on Monday, Governor Kay Ivey announced that state employees will now have Juneteenth as a recognized holiday.

The memo outlines the state holidays for the remaining portion of the year, including the commemoration of Juneteenth on June 19th, which signifies the abolition of slavery in the United States.

In a memo she wrote, Governor Ivey stated, “All state offices will be closed on the aforementioned dates, except in areas where it is crucial to maintain personnel. If any employee is required to work on any of these holidays, they should be granted time off as soon as possible thereafter.”

In addition to Thanksgiving Day, there are several other holidays that are observed, including the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Gina Maiola, the communications director for Ivey, mentioned on Monday that the memo did not include a comprehensive list of all state holidays. However, Governor Ivey took the initiative to add two additional days to the calendar: Juneteenth and the day after Thanksgiving.

President Joe Biden signed a law in 2021 that officially declared Juneteenth as a federal holiday. However, the process of establishing Juneteenth as a state holiday in Alabama, a state with a historical significance in slavery, has proven to be challenging.

In April, the Alabama House of Representatives gave its approval to HB 4, which was sponsored by Rep. Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham. The measure was amended to mirror HB 367, sponsored by Rep. Chris Sells, R-Greenville.

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State employees would have been mandated to observe either Juneteenth or Jefferson Davis’ Birthday on June 3rd, as per the House-passed bill. The latter is a state holiday that commemorates the former Confederate president and slaveholder.

According to Sells, the choice was not initially included in Givan’s bill. In an interview, Sells explained that state employees already have 13 holidays and he did not intend to add another day off. Therefore, his proposed legislation would grant state employees the option to select which of those holidays they would like to take off.

The Senate did not vote on the bill.

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