Philadelphia will recognize Juneteenth as an official city holiday
Mayor Jim Kenney announced that all city offices and facilities will be closed on June 19 to commemorate the date celebrated for the end of slavery in the U.S.
For the first time in the city’s history, Philadelphia will observe June 19, also known as Juneteenth, as an official holiday.
The news was announced by Mayor Jim Kenney Tuesday evening.
Juneteenth is an official City holiday.
This is one small but meaningful step toward repairing the damages inflicted on Black Americans throughout our country’s history. #BlackLivesMatterhttps://t.co/PvLeJFWrTc
— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) June 17, 2020
Juneteenth is the oldest holiday that celebrates the official end to slavery in the United States, which took place on June 19, 1865. On that day, the enslaved individuals in Galveston, Texas — the last enslaved Black people in the U.S. — learned that the Civil War had ended and they were freed, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Juneteenth has a unique cultural and historical significance; it symbolizes freedom, represents the triumph of emancipation, and marks a day of reflection. Now more than ever, it’s critically important to acknowledge America’s original sin of slavery — something we as a nation have never atoned for,” Mayor Jim Kenney wrote in a statement.
As protests against racial injustice and police brutality continue taking place all across the country, many large corporations nationwide have announced its plans to recognize June 19 as an official company holiday, including the NFL, Nike, Google and Target.
The city of Philadelphia has held its annual Juneteenth Parade & Festival in each of the last four years, with this year’s celebration being canceled due health concerns related to the pandemic.
Currently, 47 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday or a day of observance.
In 2019, Governor Tom Wolf signed a legislative act designating June 19 as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in Pennsylvania.
While Kenney’s designation is through an executive order for 2020, he announced plans to take the necessary steps to make Juneteenth a city holiday for years to come.
“This designation of Juneteenth represents my administration’s commitment to reckon with our own role in maintaining racial inequities and our understanding of the magnitude of work that lies ahead,” he said.
All city offices and facilities will be closed on Friday, June 19 in observance of Juneteenth.