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Juneteenth is now an official city and school holiday

June 19, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Juneteenth is now an official city and school holiday
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On Friday, June 19, the date of Juneteenth, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that starting next year the day will be an official city and school holiday.

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved Africans.

Borough President Eric Adams, who attended rallies at the Brooklyn Museum and Borough Hall, said, “Today, I am so proud that the city where I was born and raised, home to America’s largest black population, has declared that Juneteenth will be an official government and school holiday going forward. I thank Mayor Bill de Blasio for hearing our call on this most significant commemoration, one that I hope sparks collective remembrance of our struggle and renewed fight on our journey to eradicating inequality and injustice in this city and this nation.”

A message from the Fort Hamilton Garrison leadership stated, “On June 18th, 1865, Union General Granger arrived in Galveston Texas with 2,000 Federal troops. The following day, 19 June 1865 – exactly 155 years ago – General Granger stood on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa and read aloud the contents of ‘General Order No. 3,’ announcing the total emancipation of those held as slaves. He announced that the last remaining slaves, located in Texas, were free. This is a significant milestone in our Nation’s history. It was a step in acknowledging that we are all equal and we are all deserving of the same freedom and liberties.”

Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus, who stated she is proud to support the Juneteenth event on Coney Island at Kaiser Park at 1 p.m., shared her thoughts.

“Today we celebrate Juneteenth, a day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States,” she said.  “Black people were enslaved for 246 years and have been free-ish for 155 years. Our struggle for human rights continues and won’t end until there is full equality and justice under the law.”

Photos courtesy of Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus 
Scenes from the Juneteenth event in Coney Island

“Juneteenth marks the formal end to one of the ugliest and most immoral institutions in America, but 155 years later, we still have miles to go on the path to racial justice and equality,” said U.S. Rep. Max Rose. “It is on all of us to work towards this change.”

“It took more than two years for the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, to become a reality for hundreds of thousands of enslaved African Americans,” wrote Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis. “Today we celebrate the anniversary of June 19, 1865, the day slaves were finally freed in the last un-emancipated states.”

De Blasio announced the city will commemorate Juneteenth with a new commission to understand the effects of structural and institutional racism in New York City. Called the Racial Justice and Reconciliation Commission (RRC), it will be established to promote social learning, collective introspection and policy action.

“New York City is the safest big city in America with crime at all-time lows, yet communities of color bear the brunt of crime and incarceration,” he said. “Racism has been a pervasive and consequential force throughout the city’s history and we cannot go back to the status quo.”

“This freedom was very much just a first step in a long struggle for fairness, justice and equal rights for African Americans,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “It’s also a day to celebrate the many ways in which African-Americans have shaped our country and culture even in the face of oppression.”

Photo courtesy of Borough President Eric Adams

“We’ve come further over the past month than in the past decade,” said Councilmember Justin Brannan. “We can’t go back now. Holiday? Yes. But Juneteenth must be included in the national curriculum. There are too many pages missing from the textbooks right now.”

Councilmember Mark Treyger will co-host a third annual Juneteenth celebration, in collaboration with Art’s House Schools and Sophia Harrison, via Youtube at 5 p.m.

“I stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement for justice and peace and will continue to be an ally to fight against racism, bigotry, and xenophobia,” he said. “I also support NY Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman’s bill to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’”

Photos courtesy of Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus 
Scenes from the Juneteenth event in Coney Island


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