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Jackson County makes Juneteenth a paid holiday for employees

AP Explains Juneteenth Holiday
Reedy Chapel
Amya Watson
Posted at 1:52 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 14:52:10-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County is following the example set by Kansas City, Missouri, and making Juneteenth a paid holiday for county employees.

The Jackson County Legislature unanimously passed Ordinance No. 5513 on Monday, which designates the third Friday in June as a paid holiday and encourages county employees to “celebrate Juneteenth by giving back to Jackson County through a day of service.”

“I am very excited and extremely proud to sign this ordinance into law which finally acknowledges the struggles, perseverance and contributions of Black people in our community and country,” Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. said in a statement. “The leadership of Legislator Jalen Anderson, who introduced the ordinance, and his fellow colleagues is a clear indication that Jackson County is committed to putting in the hard work and having the tough conversations necessary to break down structural inequities and systems of oppression. Together, we are taking a small, yet significant step forward to ensure true equity and liberation for the Black community.”

The ordinance takes effect immediately, so June 18 will be a paid holiday for county staff this year.

“We have a responsibility as leaders in our community to acknowledge that our country’s history is rooted in the enslavement of Black people – people, who to this day, continue to fight against oppression, inequality and injustice,” Anderson, who represents the 1st District At-Large in the Jackson County Legislature, said in a statement. “Passing this legislation is long overdue and does not make up for the decades such a significant day has been overlooked. However, I am proud that from this day forward Jackson County will reflect on and honor the meaning of Juneteenth as we continue to listen, learn and grow toward reconciliation and healing.”

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. when Union soldiers freed slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865 — more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

White gave staff an extra floating holiday in recognition of Juneteenth by executive order last year, but the ordinance makes the county’s recognition of Juneteenth permanent.