Communications & Public Affairs
Feb. 28, 2018

Contact: State Rep. John Paul Jordan
Phone: (405) 557-7352

Contact: State Rep. George Young
Phone: (405) 557-7393

Contact: State Sen. Anastasia Pittman
Phone: (405) 521-5531

Legislation Seeks to Remember Juneteenth

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill to modify state curriculum standards has unanimously passed the House Common Education committee with a vote of 11 to 0.

House Bill 3471, authored Rep. John Paul Jordan, requires the U.S. History component of Oklahoma’s social studies curriculum to include information about Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans.

“The ending of slavery should be recognized in every community in Oklahoma,” Jordan said. “As President Lincoln stated, ‘If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.’ It is important for us as a nation and as a state to remember our mistakes and to celebrate when we correct those mistakes.”

Rep. George Young, the leader of the Oklahoma Black Caucus, added a friendly amendment to the legislation that would make June 19 an official state holiday in recognition of Juneteenth.

“It is quite an honor to be part of this legislation to recognize this historic moment in the journey of this country,” said Young, D-OKC. “It is another step to help the citizens of Oklahoma and our educational community to be able to lift the importance of diversity and the moments when our nation struggled to find a better path. The first sentence of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ It was not factual at that moment in time and the beauty of this nation is that we continue to struggle to make those words true for all citizens. This legislation helps us as a people to see the struggle and to be a reminder of how much work there is still to do.”

The legislation is now ready to be heard on the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Once it passes the House, it will then move to the Senate where the bill is being carried by State Sen. Anastasia Pittman.

“I am honored to carry this legislation in the Senate,” Pittman said. “We are moving Oklahoma forward and recognizing that we are celebrating diversity and sharing common ground. We must expand our social studies curriculum, according to §70-11-103.6b, and textbooks to reflect American diversity, to fulfill our obligation to teach diversity, and this is a great opportunity for us to ensure that Oklahoma and American History has value.”