Mayor Eric Adams on Monday announced Juneteenth will now be a paid holiday for New York City employees for the first time in the city’s history. Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, marks the anniversary of the end of slavery in the United States and is considered by many to be the longest-running African American holiday.
Juneteenth marks the date in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce that all enslaved people were free, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln gave the Emancipation Proclamation.
In June 2020, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that recognized Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees and stated that he would introduce legislation in 2021 that would make Juneteenth an official state holiday. On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth was officially recognized as a federal holiday.
While former Mayor Bill de Blasio also pledged to make Juneteenth an official city holiday in 2020, municipal workers did not get a paid holiday last year. In a statement announcing the holiday, Adams called the decision “long overdue.”
“As the second Black mayor of New York City, I know that I stand on the shoulders of countless heroes and sheroes who put their lives on the line to secure a more perfect union. Now is the time for me to do a small part and recognize one of our nation’s greatest wrongs,” Adams said in a statement.
“Juneteenth is a time for reflection, assessment, and self-improvement. People across the country of all races, nationalities, and religions unite on this day to truthfully acknowledge the stain of slavery and celebrate the countless contributions of Black Americans. It’s time for our city to finally do what’s right and officially designate Juneteenth as a city holiday. This decision is long overdue, which is why it will immediately take effect this year.”
The first Juneteenth celebration was observed in Texas as “Jubliee Day” on June 19, 1866. Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas in 1980.