Members of the Statesboro City Council unanimously approved a motion to designate June 19 as “Juneteenth Independence Day” during Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled City Council meeting. The day will be a paid holiday for City of Statesboro employees beginning in 2021.
“Juneteenth Independence Day celebrates one of the greatest moments in American History — the freeing of more than four million enslaved Africans,” said Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar. “This holiday encapsulates the spirit of America and its journey to becoming a free nation for all people. I felt the Mayor and Council needed to establish Juneteenth as a paid holiday and not just a documented holiday for city employees to adequately recognize and appreciate the significance of the day. I am proud of our council for taking the lead to make our city a more inclusive community.”
News of the end of slavery did not reach the frontier areas of the United States, in particular, the State of Texas and the other Southwestern States, until months after the conclusion of the Civil War.
On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were free. The news arrived more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
African Americans who had been slaves in the Southwest celebrated June 19, commonly known as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” as an inspiration and encouragement for future generations. The tradition of observing Juneteenth Independence Day has been celebrated for more than 150 years.
Juneteenth began as a holiday in the State of Texas and is now celebrated in 46 States, including Georgia and the District of Columbia as a special day of observance in recognition of the emancipation of all slaves in the United States. Slavery was not officially abolished until the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in December 1865.