Ann Arbor Mayor Announces Plan to Make Juneteenth an Official City Day

ANN ARBOR, MI – Mayor Christopher Taylor this week announced plans to make Juneteenth, a day that celebrates the freedom of blacks from slavery in the United States, an official city holiday.

With the annual celebration on June 19, Taylor said he was working with other members of the city council on a resolution to recognize the third Saturday of June as June 19 and make it a permanent public holiday in Ann Arbor.

“Juneteenth is a day of remembrance and determination,” he said in a statement. “A day to celebrate emancipation and to honor the strength, perseverance and dignity of African Americans exposed to the atrocities of American slavery.”

It is a day for the entire community to come together to recognize the central and shameful role of slavery and government structured racism in society and to commit to the enduring legacy of slavery in relation to racial discrimination and institutional racism to finish, said Taylor.

Taylor said he wanted to recognize the leadership of the NAACP’s Ann Arbor division, which has been celebrating June 19 in Ann Arbor for decades. He worked with local NAACP President William Hampton, other community leaders, city officials, and councilors Lisa Disch, Kathy Griswold, and Travis Radina to develop the resolution on the council’s next agenda.

The resolution notes that the holiday originated in Texas and recalls the announcement made by Union Army General Gordon Granger, who landed in the port city of Galveston and after the delivery of Confederate General Robert E. Lee to the Union General Ulysses S. Grant proclaimed freedom from slavery in Texas two months earlier.

The Order’s announcement of the Liberation of Slaves in Texas in June 1865 was preceded two and a half years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln’s Declaration of Emancipation, and the “time gap” between the two events was the first of many cases in which “justice is delayed, justice denied.” becomes”. According to the proposed resolution recognizing Juneteenth in Ann Arbor.

“This enduring legacy is heavily manifested in the city of Ann Arbor and greater Washtenaw County,” it said.

“Open recognition of this history and present is necessary if we as a nation, state, or city are to successfully build a truly just, diverse community that exemplifies and promotes the fundamental American values ​​of freedom and equality, freedom and justice. “

Hampton said he was originally from Texas, so he has celebrated June 19th for as long as he can remember.

“We celebrate June 19th before we celebrate July 4th because it was more important to us than July 4th. That’s why I celebrated June 19th from the start,” he said.

Ann Arbor’s official recognition is exciting, said Hampton. He’s been in Ann Arbor since 1976, and the NAACP has held a June 19th celebration here every year since 1994, beginning in Wheeler Park, named after Ann Arbor’s first and only black mayor, Albert Wheeler, he said.

Last year it was celebrated with a march from Fuller Park to Wheeler Park followed by a virtual presentation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hampton said.

Given the ongoing pandemic, another virtual celebration is planned for June 19 this year, he said.

“Last year’s theme was March for Racial Justice, and we are in the process of developing a theme for this year. We’re looking at something like emancipation, but are we free? “he said.” As you know, the worst of the major pandemics, COVID-19, exposed a whole host of shortcomings in America that pertain to African Americans, like access to health care, like equal treatment in the criminal justice system, and me can go on. “


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