SC workers may get Juneteenth, Confederate holiday choice

FILE - In this July 10, 2017 file photo, Cameron Maynard stands at attention by the monument to Confederate soldiers at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. A bill giving state employees in South Carolina a floating holiday to replace Confederate Memorial Day is heading to the Senate floor. The bill started as a proposal to add the Juneteenth celebration on June 19 as a new state holiday. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins) (Jeffrey Collins, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A bill that would allow state employees to take the Juneteenth holiday or any other day instead of Confederate Memorial Day unanimously passed the South Carolina Senate on Tuesday.

The bill began as a proposal to add the Juneteenth celebration on June 19 as a new state holiday. But instead of adding a 14th holiday, the bill would create a holiday that state employees could take any time they want.

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To not spend any additional money, the bill would create a floating holiday that workers could take on Confederate Memorial Day on May 10, for Juneteenth or any other day they choose.

It wasn't immediately clear from the language of the bill whether state officers would remain closed on Confederate Memorial Day like they do currently or of they could end up closed on Juneteenth.

The bill now heads to the South Carolina House.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers told enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, that they were free. It was two months after the Confederacy surrendered and more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The federal government made it an official holiday last year.

In recent years, the Confederate Memorial Day celebration at the Statehouse has attracted a few dozen people who raise a Confederate flag on a small pole near a memorial to rebel soldiers on capitol grounds.

South Carolina flew the Confederate flag on the Statehouse dome for decades before moving it to the capitol grounds in 2000. Fifteen years later, lawmakers removed the flag entirely less than a month after an avowed racist who posed with the banner shot and killed nine Black people at an African American church in Charleston.

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