LAFAYETTE, LA (KADN)- On June 19, many people in Acadiana will come together to honor “Juneteenth” which is set to become an official state holiday.
House bill 554 which declares Juneteenth as a state-wide holiday has been approved by both the house and senate.
The bill is heading to Governor John Bel Edwards desk, where he is expected to sign it into law. Fred Prejean, a local activist, said that this bill is long overdue.
“The 4th for the July did not free black people. It was not black people who were freed. But on Juneteenth. It was indeed black people,” Prejean said.
June 19, 1865, is recognized as "Juneteenth" the day that the last slaves were freed just over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
“These people were enslaved for almost 400 years and you can imagine the joy and the emotional experience that must have been for them,” Prejean said.
Prejean is also the president of Move the Mindset, a local social justice organization. According to Prejean, some slaves in the south had no knowledge that they were supposed to be free.
“The people in Texas, black people in Texas did not learn of that Declaration of Independence, nor did they know the civil war had ended,” Prejean said.
The activist doesn’t believe Juneteenth should be a day of celebration.
“We commemorate Juneteenth. Other people say they celebrate it. To commemorate is to remember and to respect," Prejean said.
Prejean said that he is happy that there is just one more step before Juneteenth is an official holiday in Louisiana.
“I understand the bill has passed both the house and the senate, and it's on its way to the governor's office, and I can't wait to read that he has signed it,” he said.
Gov. Edwards approved the bill on June 10, 2021.
Move the Mindset will be holding its annual Juneteenth commemoration next Saturday, June 19. It will take place at the corner of Jefferson Street and Lee Avenue at the Confederate Gen. Mouton statue.