City Council may push for Juneteenth to get recognition as state, federal holiday

Several Long Beach City Council members are pushing for Juneteenth to be recognized as a state and federal holiday, according to the agenda for the council’s June 1 meeting. They’ve proposed a resolution that the full City Council could soon vote on calling for action on the issue.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day that Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, announcing that the Civil War had ended and those who were enslaved were now free.

The day has since become a day to celebrate African American freedom and culture.

The agenda item, proposed by Councilmembers Al Austin, Mary Zendejas and Rex Richardson, requests that the City Attorney draft a resolution that council members could then ratify urging President Joe Biden and Congress to make Juneteenth a national holiday along with urging Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California State Legislature to make it a state holiday.

The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act has been re-introduced in both the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Juneteenth is currently recognized by 49 states and the District of Columbia as an official state observance or holiday.

If passed, the June 1 agenda item would also declare Juneteenth a “Day of Celebration” in Long Beach.

“Long Beach is a leader in celebrating our diversity and supporting social justice and equity in our City and fostering mutual respect and understanding for all,” the City Council agenda item says. “As such, Long Beach should declare Juneteenth as a Day of Celebration in Long Beach and add our voice in the call to make Juneteenth a national holiday.”

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