Tempe city officials have announced that Friday, June 19, will be a city holiday for employees, celebrating what’s known as Juneteenth.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, which is the day that all enslaved African Americans finally heard about the abolition of slavery. Despite the Emancipation Proclamation being signed by President Abraham Lincoln two years prior, it took a long time for word to get out to all slaves.
In a press release, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said, “We are all clear in the knowledge that the work of equity and inclusion, equal rights and access to educational and economic opportunities is not done. We’re also clear in the knowledge that institutional and structural racism, no matter what progress has been made, is still alive and well in our society. Of course, hard work and time are needed to address the deep-seeded causes of racism and inequity and we will need a strong coalition of individuals from across the nation to work for broad policing reforms and more equitable economic opportunities. The City of Tempe is committed to taking the time to shine the light on these issues and working for a better tomorrow, together.”
Many city facilities and offices will be closed on June 19 to commemorate the day.
“We’re asking our employees and residents to take time this Juneteenth, and always, to educate themselves about African American heritage and honor the lives, sacrifices and contributions given to build the American fabric,” Mayor Mitchell said.