ARIZONA NEWS

West Valley suburb of Goodyear creates official Juneteenth city holiday

Nov 20, 2021, 5:00 AM
(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)...
(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

PHOENIX – Juneteenth, a commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S., is now an official city holiday in the West Valley suburb of Goodyear.

The City Council unanimously approved the creation of the holiday, to be observed annually on June 19, during Monday’s meeting.

“We are proud to be leading the way as one of the first cities in the Valley to establish Juneteenth as an official city holiday,” City Manager Julie Karins said in a press release.

“Thanks to the leadership of our City Council, adding this holiday to our calendar is another testament to our commitment to our core values and demonstrates the importance that the city of Goodyear puts on respecting and valuing our unique experiences.”

Juneteenth 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.

Often celebrated at first with church picnics and speeches, the holiday spread across the nation and internationally as Black Texans moved elsewhere.

The vast majority of states recognize Juneteenth as a holiday or a day of recognition, like Flag Day, and most states hold celebrations. Juneteenth is a paid holiday for state employees in Texas, New York, Virginia and Washington, and hundreds of companies give workers a day off for Juneteenth.

Two days before this year’s Juneteenth, President Joe Biden signed a bill making it the 12th federal holiday, the first since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.

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

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego has said she will push for Arizona’s largest city to create an official Juneteenth holiday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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West Valley suburb of Goodyear creates official Juneteenth city holiday