Starting this year, Juneteenth will be a holiday in St. Louis County.
The county’s Civil Service Commission agreed on Thursday to add Juneteenth to the county’s holiday schedule starting in 2021.
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page had requested consideration of Juneteenth as a holiday after the county shut its offices last year in observance of the anniversary that marks the end of slavery in the United States.
“Last year, as our country responded to the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Juneteenth took on greater meaning and received greater awareness,” Page said. “I heard from many of our employees and residents about what the day means to them. I am pleased to announce today that the Civil Service Commission voted to make Juneteenth an official county holiday.”
The holiday held on June 19th has been a long-held tradition among Blacks throughout the United States. This latest decision officially recognizes the important date that should, many say, have the same gravity as the 4th of July.
“It’s important that we all take the opportunity to commemorate the historic gravity of Juneteenth,” Page added. “It’s a day to appreciate the changes that we have seen since the 19th century while also reflecting upon how we can each play a role in the changes that are yet to come.”
Last year, the festivity of Juneteenth was observed in a “freedom ride” in which several community leaders participated. MetroSTL.com was there to cover the event and get some first reactions to the recognition of this important date.
“We just hope that everybody can get behind this movement, I think its way overdue, and I think its time for us to recognize the true day we were emancipated as a people, and everybody should welcome that,” St. Louis City Sheriff Vernon Betts said at the rally on June 19th, 2020.
“Everybody should celebrate any freedom for anybody,” Betts added.
The 2020 parade traveled from north St. Louis down through the city in a long train of cars that honked and flashed their lights in celebration of Juneteenth.
The celebration of Juneteenth in St. Louis was introduced in 2006 by activist Coffee Wright as a festival in recognition of the black community. Wright is the CEO of the St. Louis Inner City Culture Center Enterprise . An organization that has been promoting Juneteenth in St. Louis.
She also has written a poem about the date. Wright is the author of the Juneteenth National Anthem, a poem that speaks of the anxiety and hope that the news of the emancipation brought to enslaved blacks in the Confederate States during the American Civil War.
Mayor Lyda Krewson made Juneteenth an official holiday in the City of St. Louis in 2020, celebrations marking the day will be held on the 18th of June this year.