Story at a glance

  • Hawaii’s House and Senate passed legislation that will honor Juneteenth on June 19 if the governor signs the bill.
  • Juneteenth is the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
  • If the bill is signed, Hawaii would become the 49th state to recognize the day, leaving South Dakota as the only remaining state that doesn’t.

The Hawaii House and Senate passed legislation on Tuesday that will honor Juneteenth on June 19 as the day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, if Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) signs the bill.

If signed, Hawaii is poised to become the 49th state to recognize the day, leaving South Dakota as the only remaining state that doesn’t. 

The South Dakota Senate passed a measure earlier this year to observe Juneteenth as a day of remembrance, however, it didn’t get through the House.


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The founder and executive director of the Popolo Project, Akiemi Glenn, said the new legislation would honor the ancestors of Hawaii’s Black people.

“There’s a recognition that we’re here and that we’re part of Hawaii,” she told NBC News.

The Popolo Project is an organization aiming to unite and connect Hawaii’s Black community and “redefines what it means to be Black in Hawai‘i.” Popolo, which is Hawaiian for a plant with dark purple or black berries, also refers to Black people.

Glenn said she believes Hawaii is one of the last states to observe the day because it has such a small Black population, with U.S. Census Bureau data reporting Black people making up 3.6 percent of the state’s population.

“There’s been tremendous momentum building around recognizing the humanity of Black people around the world,” Glenn said, “and certainly here in Hawaii, and listening to our voices.”


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Published on Apr 29, 2021