Today, the Minneapolis City Council approved making Juneteenth a new City holiday.
Observed June 19, Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when the last of enslaved people in the U.S. received news of their freedom and entitlement to natural born human rights under the law, which had actually been bestowed upon them two and a half years earlier with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Today the council recognizes the significant value that our African American employees bring to the City of Minneapolis,” said City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, who sponsored the measure. “We join Hennepin County and so many other jurisdictions throughout the county in acknowledging this stain in American history. This is an important step in recognizing the reach of the hideous system of slavery within American history and the impacts that continue to show up today.”
Mayor Jacob Frey is expected to sign the measure Monday.
“Creating a truly more inclusive workplace won’t happen through any single action, but establishing Juneteenth as a permanent, official City holiday is a step in the right direction and an important acknowledgement of our history and African American experiences,” said Frey. “I am grateful for the leadership of the Minneapolis Black Employee Network (MBEN) and the work done by our team to lead the charge and make this change happen.”
“Juneteenth is a time to uplift the liberation of American people, Black American descendants of slavery, a holiday we should all honor and recognize,” Jenkins added. “I hope the City of Minneapolis will lead as an example for other organizations to establish Juneteenth as a holiday and embed discussion about its origins into a culture that promotes inclusion and anti-racism. Thank you to my colleagues for their unanimous support.”
Because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, the City’s Juneteenth holiday observance will take place Friday, June 18.