MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is calling on state lawmakers to establish a state holiday recognizing Juneteenth. This push comes Friday after the governor issued a proclamation officially recognizing the day as Juneteeth Freedom Day in Minnesota.

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery. It dates back to June 19, 1865, when the last slaves in Galveston, Texas, were liberated, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Juneteenth marks our country’s second Independence Day, celebrating freedom and justice and emphasizing education, achievement, and tolerance,” Walz said in his proclamation. “We must do everything in our power to come together to deconstruct generations of systemic racism in our state so that every person in Minnesota – Black, Indigenous, Brown, and White – can be safe and thrive.”

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The governor’s proclamation notes on the special significance of Juneteenth this year, as it follows the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.

Cellphone video of Floyd’s fatal arrest shocked the world, as it showed an ex-Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Floyd’s death sparked protests over racial injustice in the Twin Cities and beyond.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers at the Capitol are working on a special session, with police reform as one of the main objectives. It remains unclear if lawmakers will reach a resolution before the session ends Friday.

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