Michigan Governor & Gilchrist Sign Juneteenth Proclamation

Whitmer and Gilchrist Sign Juneteenth Proclamation

LANSING, MI (STL.News) Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II issued a proclamation declaring June 19th as Juneteenth Celebration Day in Michigan.  Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when slavery was abolished in the United States.

“We are proud to celebrate Juneteenth as an official state holiday for the first time,” said Governor Whitmer.  “Today presents an important opportunity to celebrate and elevate the stories of Black Americans as we continue to make record investments in communities of color.  Since we took office, the lieutenant governor and I have prioritized building a state representative and responsive to the people we serve, addressing racial disparities and improving equity across Michigan. I am proud to declare June 19th as Juneteenth Celebration Day, and I am committed to working with anyone to build a more equitable and just state for all Michiganders.”

“Juneteenth marks a crucial day in our nation’s history to recognize the important progress we’ve made, while committing ourselves to the ongoing effort to center equity in all our work and make Michigan a place where every person can succeed,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II.  “As the first Black lieutenant governor in our state, I’m building the policies and practices that will address and undo the damage racism and injustice has caused on our communities.  That’s why we continue to invest in schools, job training, environmental justice, infrastructure and supporting businesses – all transformational investments and policies that celebrate, support and uplift communities of color.  I am proud of the progress we’ve made thus far and will continue to work every day to make sure every all Michiganders have the support and opportunities they need.”

Juneteenth originated on June 19, 1865, when Union Army General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, where he read General Order #3, stating that all slaves were free, and that former masters and slaves were absolutely equal in personal and property rights.  Acting as the date of emancipation, June 19th also became a long-standing day of celebration, meant to honor African American resilience and the end of slavery.

Since they took office, Governor Whitmer and Lt. Governor Gilchrist have been committed to making Michigan a more equitable and just state.  The governor assembled the most diverse cabinet in Michigan’s history to ensure that government is more representative of all Michiganders.  More than 338 Black Michiganders have been appointed to boards, commissions and full-time positions, and 60% of appointees are women or people of color.  The governor also appointed 12 Black Michiganders to the bench out of 41 judicial appointments.  Under Executive Order 2020-163, the governor required implicit bias training for all state employees.

In response to COVID-19, Governor Whitmer established the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities by Executive Order 2020-55.  The task force, which Lt. Governor Gilchrist chairs, has made real progress in bringing down the COVID disparity for Black Michiganders and has extended its work to tackling health disparities as a whole.

Additionally, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-163, recognizing racism as a public health crisis and creating the Black Leadership Advisory Council.  The Council is the first of its kind in Michigan to elevate Black leaders and representatives and take initial steps to address racism within state government.

Last year, Lt. Governor Gilchrist launched his ‘Making Real Change’ Tour across Michigan to highlight the administration’s continued efforts to flatten and eliminate racial disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The tour focused on what the state has learned to apply those lessons to equitably administering vaccines and building the resilience required to reduce racial disparities in health and other areas within communities.

Governor Whitmer made strides in police reforms when she called on the legislature to address racial disparities and strengthen relationships between law enforcement and communities of color.  The governor also made Michigan a leader in transparency and accountability by developing a new web page to improve public access to information on the use of force and traffic stop data, department policies and training requirements.

View the full proclamation here.