Juneteenth: An Opportunity to Reflect, Recommit to Social Justice

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The following is a statement from County Manager Michael P. Callagy:

It goes without saying the County of San Mateo is a welcoming community dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion in the services it provides. Juneteenth, or Juneteenth Independence Day, commemorates the traditional observance of the end of slavery in the United Stated and is observed annually on June 19.

June 19 is a date that marks a pivotal event in our country’s history. While the Emancipation Proclamation became official on January 1, 1863, many enslaved Africans were in states where slavery continued or where they didn’t know that they were free. On June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger informed more than 250,000 enslaved African Americans in Texas that they were free, and the 13th Amendment followed on Dec. 8, 1865.

The now annual celebration of Juneteenth, in recognition of independence from slavery, began a year later, June 19, 1866 and is one of our country’s oldest celebrations of the abolition of slavery.

Juneteenth is an opportunity to recognize how our country was able to rise above a painful chapter in our history. Juneteenth also allows us to reflect on how much work still needs to be done in the name of social justice. Observing Juneteenth allows us to join together in the name of freedom, justice and the power of community.

The County of San Mateo recognizes the history of racism in our country and how it has led to many current-day disparities in education, job attainment, housing, criminal justice, and healthcare for Black people and beyond. Juneteenth is an important opportunity to honor the principles of the Declaration of Independence and celebrate the many achievements and contributions African Americans have made, and continue to make, in the County of San Mateo and across our nation.

With the federal government declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday, I plan to propose to the Board of Supervisors in an upcoming meeting that next year the County recognize Juneteenth as a County holiday.

I wish you all a festive Juneteenth that’s full of harmony, happiness and good health.

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