SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) — Several events in The Upstate are planned for this year’s Juneteeth celebration, which recognizes the abolishment of slavery on June 19, 1865. However, several states, including South Carolina, have not yet adopted the day as a holiday for employees.

Friday Juneteenth at Unity Park (Greenville)
Juneteenth GVL Gala: Black Tie & Kente Affair (Greenville)
Juneteenth Block Party (Spartanburg)
Juneteenth Trap Music vs R&B Music Paint Party (Greenville)
Saturday Juneteenth GVL Mega Fest (Greenville)
Juneteenth Festival (Spartanburg)
Juneteenth Soul Food Festival (Fountain Inn)
Juneteenth GVL Mega Fest 5k & Yoga with Vets (Greenville)
2nd Annual Black History Vendor Exposition (Greenville)
Freedom Festival (Asheville)
Anderson Juneteenth Event (Anderson)
Sunday 2022 Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration (Greenville)
Juneteeth Celebration and Renewal (Spartanburg)
Say What Poetry Open Mic Celebrates Juneteenth (Greenville)
Say What Poetry Open Mic Celebrates Juneteenth at Coffee Underground (Greenville)

Texas was the last state in the union to emancipate its slaves on June 19, after Union Army General Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom for all residents in Galveston.

The announcement, called Order No. 3, came two months after the Confederacy had surrendered in the Civil War and about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Southern states.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

General Gordon Granger, Order No. 3

Although almost every state recognizes Juneteenth in some fashion, many have been slow to do more than issue a proclamation or resolution, even as some continue to commemorate the Confederacy.

Lawmakers in South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and other states did not advance proposals this year that would have closed state offices and given most of their public employees paid time off for the June 19 holiday.

President Joe Biden signed legislation last year that made Juneteenth a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery.

It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.

In South Carolina, instead of working to approve Juneteenth as a holiday, Senate lawmakers unanimously advanced a bill that would allow state employees to choose any day they want to take off instead of the Confederate Memorial Day currently enshrined as a paid holiday in state law. However, the House sent the bill to a committee where it died without a hearing when the Legislature adjourned for the session.

South Carolina closes state offices on May 10 to mark Confederate Memorial Day. It’s among a handful of states in the South with such an official holiday. State offices in Alabama and Mississippi closed down for their Confederate Memorial Days.

South Carolina chose May 10 because it is the day when Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson died in 1863 after he was wounded by his own troops and the day Union soldiers captured fleeing Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Georgia in 1865.

This year, nearly 20 states are expected to close state offices and give most of their public employees time off. At least six states officially adopted the holiday over the past few months, including Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, South Dakota, Utah and Washington.

“Becoming a state holiday will not merely give employees a day off, it will also give residents a day to think about the future that we want, while remembering the inequities of the past,” said Democratic Del. Andrea Harrison, who sponsored the Juneteenth legislation in Maryland this year. “It will help us to reflect how far we’ve come as a nation, how much more we need to do as humankind.”

Attempts to give Juneteenth the same importance as July Fourth didn’t begin to gain traction until 2020, when protests sparked a nationwide push to address race after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the deaths of other Black people by police officers.

“George Floyd protests against police brutality brought awareness to Juneteenth because there were people of all races learning about its significance for the first time following a public push to self-educate and learn more about Black history, culture and injustices,” said Tremaine Jasper, a resident and business owner in Phoenix who has attended Juneteenth celebrations across Arizona with his family.