Phoenix Mayor Gallego to seek creation of Juneteenth city holiday

Jun 18, 2021, 3:00 PM | Updated: Nov 18, 2021, 2:15 pm

kate gallego juneteenth...

(City of Phoenix Photo)

(City of Phoenix Photo)

PHOENIX – Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego signed a Juneteenth proclamation on Friday and said she will push for the city to follow the U.S. government in making it into an official holiday.

“I hope the people of Phoenix will do as the proclamation suggests and take a moment on Saturday to pause and reflect on the promise of freedom and all it entails,” Gallego said during a proclamation signing ceremony with members of Phoenix’s Black community, according to a press release.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill that created an annual federal holiday for Juneteenth, a name that combines June and nineteenth and commemorates the end of slavery in the country.

The holiday has long been celebrated in the Black community on June 19, the date in 1865 when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered and more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.

This year’s Valley of the Sun Juneteenth Celebration will take place Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Phoenix’s Eastlake Park at Jefferson and 16th streets.

“It is important to recognize the importance of this day,” Gallego said.

“Part of our job is to understand the history, appreciate the changes that have taken place since the original Juneteenth, while never losing sight of the fact that – even now – we have more work to do to fulfill the promises of freedom, equality and opportunity.”

The release said Gallego plans to place making Juneteenth a city holiday in front of the City Council in the fall.

The bill for the federal holiday passed the Senate unanimously and received 14 no votes from House Republicans, including two from Arizona, Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously had 1965 as the date of the holiday’s origin.

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Phoenix Mayor Gallego to seek creation of Juneteenth city holiday