HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont has signed legislation establishing Juneteenth Independence Day as a new legal state holiday.

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19. It is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

“Juneteenth marks an important day in our nation that for far too long has gone underrecognized and has not been truly appreciated to the extent that it should be as a major part of United States history. While some elected officials in other states are working to block efforts to teach the true history of our nation, it fills me with pride that here in Connecticut we are embracing that history and working to educate everyone about how our nation was built and the significance of what this day means. I firmly believe that ignoring the reality of slavery and the impact that it has had on the United States for many, many decades after it was outlawed is an injustice and does not benefit anyone, of any race or ethnicity. Honoring and celebrating Juneteenth is a reaffirmation that a democratic society is not great because it is the perfect way to govern people, but because people have the ability to fix the imperfections of government and create a stronger, fairer, and more just future.”

Governor Ned Lamont

The legislation takes effect Oct. 1, so the first time Juneteenth will be legally recognized as a state holiday in Connecticut will be on June 19, 2023.

Each local school district will get to decide whether or not to close public schools on the holiday. Lamont’s office said each local and regional board of education that stays open on a legal state holiday has to hold a “suitable educational program” in observance of the holiday.