‘It means freedom’: Florida lawmaker discusses Juneteenth holiday

ORLANDO, Fla. — On Wednesday, Congress approved a bill that would make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Channel 9 sat down with State Rep. Geraldine Thompson to talk about the holiday.

READ: What is Juneteenth? 5 things to know

“It means freedom,” Thompson said. “It means we are closer to a journey where we are all treated equal.”

The bill passed the Senate unanimously, but 14 House Republicans voted against it.

READ: EXPLAINER: The story of Juneteenth, the new federal holiday

“I know that there were some concerns about federal offices being closed, banks, post offices, any federal building would be closed and the cost of that,” Thompson said.

Although it’s a federal holiday, it is still up to each state to make it a state holiday. Florida lawmakers will make that decision in the next legislative session.

READ: Juneteenth: What to know about the holiday that celebrates slavery’s end

“Juneteenth has been one of those optional holidays since 1994 and because people didn’t really learn about Juneteenth even though it’s been celebrated since 1865 they did not necessarily take advantage of that,” Thompson said.

Karen Parks

Karen Parks, WFTV.com

Karen Parks is a reporter at WFTV.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.