The Biden Administration’s swift action on Thursday to designate Juneteenth as a federal holiday led Long Beach officials to close City Hall and give employees the day off on Monday.
Normally the holiday would be observed on a Friday, since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year. However, with only a day’s notice, the city decided to push the holiday to Monday, said spokesman Kevin Lee.
Existing agreements with labor unions and a city ordinance are linked to federal holidays, which allowed Long Beach officials to declare the holiday on such short notice without action by the City Council, he said.
The city closures will be similar to those of other federal holidays: For example, City Hall, fire headquarters and utility departments will be closed to the public, but essential services such as emergency response, refuse and recycling and Long Beach Airport will remain open.
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.
Councilman Rex Richardson said on Twitter he hopes the holiday declaration “sparks conversations at kitchen tables, pulpits, and halls of Congress about the meaning of freedom, the plight of the descendants of enslaved people, and the responsibility America has toward repairing harm and healing.”
For a list of ways to celebrate Juneteenth locally, click here.
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