Juneteenth, Emancipation Day eyed as legal holidays

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Posted April 22, 2021 | News Service of Florida

A bill that would expand a list of legal holidays in Florida is headed back to the House, after the Senate on Wednesday added two days linked to the end of slavery.

The Senate voted 39-0 on Wednesday to approve the amended bill (HB 1553). The House last week unanimously passed the measure to establish a “Victims of Communism Day” that would be observed each Nov. 7.

The proposal, in part, would require students to be taught each year about how people have suffered and died under communist regimes.

On Wednesday, Sen. Randolph Bracy, R-Ocoee, proposed adding two days to the measure: Emancipation Day on May 20 and Juneteenth Day on June 19. Emancipation from slavery in Florida was proclaimed on May 20, 1865. Juneteenth marks the announcement of the end of slavery reaching all Confederate states.

Legal holidays are not paid holidays. Florida has legal holidays marking the birthdays of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony, Confederate Memorial Day, Good Friday, Flag Day and Pascua Florida Day, which marks the 1513 arrival in Florida of Juan Ponce de Leon.

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