Monday is the first day for new paid state holiday – Juneteenth. 📷

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The state of Washington started its Juneteenth celebration a little early.

Complete with food, music, speeches and poetry, state employees and community members marked the first state celebration of the newest paid holiday on the Capitol campus Thursday.

“This is an achievement. This is what we fight for,” said state Rep. Melanie Morgan, D-Pierce County.

Morgan was the prime sponsor of the 2021 bill making Juneteenth a paid holiday for state workers.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day slaves in Texas got word they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier.

Morgan first introduced the legislation naming it a state holiday in 2020, but it did not pass until 2021.

Morgan said initially a number of lawmakers opposed the move over potential costs to the state.

Adding a new paid holiday would cost the state an estimated $7.5 million, the governor's budget office estimated.

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