City of Flint among the first in Michigan to declare Juneteenth an official city holiday

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FLINT, Michigan—Juneteenth is now an official holiday in the City of Flint.

“For too long, this country has failed to acknowledge the ills of its past and has overlooked the contributions made by people of color. In declaring Juneteenth a holiday, we are recognizing that the fight for equity and justice continues today while also celebrating the achievements made by African-Americans in our community and in our country,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said.

Flint is among the first in Michigan to establish the holiday, according to the Michigan Municipal League.

Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day in 1965 when the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, to declare that slavery had been abolished more than two years prior by the Emancipation Proclamation.

Mayor Neeley announced his plan to make Juneteenth a City of Flint holiday as part of this year’s celebrations on Friday. The resolution passed City Council on Wednesday with a vote of 7-1-1 with support from Council Members Maurice Davis, Santino Guerra, Kate Fields, Jerri Winfrey-Carter, Herbert Winfrey, Allan Griggs and Eva Worthing. Council President Monica Galloway voted no and Councilman Eric Mays abstained.

While Juneteenth is recognized by the state of Michigan and some other communities nationwide, few have moved to make the celebration an official paid holiday.

As an official holiday, Flint City Hall will be closed on June 19 and it will be a paid day off for employees beginning in 2021.

While in the state House, Mayor Neeley successfully championed a measure for the state of Michigan to declare June 19, 2019, as Juneteenth Independence Day. The Michigan Legislature in 2005 also declared every third Saturday in June as Juneteenth National Freedom Day. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also issued a proclamation declaring June 19, 2020, as Juneteenth Celebration Day.

Other cities also announced plans during this year’s Juneteen celebrations to make the day a holiday. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio made national headlines with his declaration last week. Ferndale City Council this week also passed a resolution declaring the holiday on Monday, but it is unclear if it will be a paid holiday. Mayor Derek Dobies in Jackson also is pursuing a city holiday there.

The resolution passed by City Council on Wednesday also calls on state officials to make Juneteenth an official holiday.

Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth an official paid holiday in 1980.

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About the Author:

Marjory Raymer serves as the director of communications for the City of Flint.
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