Watch Live: Pritzker to Make ‘Historic Announcement' on Juneteenth in Illinois

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is set to make a "historic announcement" on Juneteenth in the state Wednesday, his office says.

Pritzker is scheduled to make the announcement at 10 a.m. at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, according to his public schedule. The event can be watched live in the video player above.

While Pritzker's office did not share details on what the announcement may entail, it comes weeks after the Illinois legislature passed a measure that would make June 19 a state holiday.

Juneteenth commemorates the date in 1865 when the last enslaved Black people in the U.S. learned from Union soldiers in Texas that they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The day is also known as Emancipation Day and Freedom Day.

The legislation passed by Illinois lawmakers last month would make June 19 a paid day off for all state employees and a school holiday.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. La Shawn Ford, has sponsored similar legislation in the past. There “wasn’t an appetite” for passing it previously, the Chicago Democrat told the Chicago Tribune. He says that changed after the murder of George Floyd, who was Black, by a white police officer in Minnesota.

“Now, post-George Floyd, this is the time,” Ford said. “Some would say this is an African American holiday, but it’s an American holiday.”

Cook County, the largest county in Illinois, recognized Juneteenth as a holiday for workers its last year.

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would make Juneteenth a federal holiday. It is expected to easily pass the House, which would send it to President Joe Biden for his signature.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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