Juneteenth Independence Day is now a legal state holiday in Massachusetts, celebrated on June 19.

That also means employees must be paid holiday pay and cannot be required to work, just as on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. The state allows retail stores to be open but not to sell alcohol.

Juneteenth is a remembrance of the date in 1865, over two-and-a-half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, when a Union general arrived in Galveston and informed Texas residents that enslaved Black people had been freed, prompting the release of tens of thousands still in bondage.

As people are being educated about it, I'd like to offer that Juneteenth has some similarities to the Jewish holiday of Passover, celebrated to remember when God used Moses to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Juneteenth is also an emancipation narrative. Both holidays are fundamentally about liberation from the subjection of slavery. To a great degree, the Exodus and the emancipation are two versions of the same story.

In one historic Biblical account, it is written that God directed Moses to take the enslaved people out of Egypt. In the emancipation story, I believe God pointed to Abraham Lincoln to lead the shackled slaves out of servitude and persecution.

Almost comparable, Juneteenth and Passover are both celebrations of liberation and independence.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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