PHILADELPHIA - Mayor Jim Kenney announced that the City of Philadelphia will designate Juneteenth as an official city holiday.
City offices and facilities will be closed to the public to observe Juneteenth on Friday, June 19, 2020, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.
“For the past few years I’ve had the privilege of participating in our city’s annual Juneteenth parade and festival, which deepened my appreciation for this important holiday,” said Kenney.
He added, “Juneteenth has a unique cultural and historical significance; it symbolizes freedom, represents the triumph of emancipation, and marks a day of reflection. Now more than ever, it’s critically important to acknowledge America’s original sin of slavery—something we as a nation have never atoned for. The only way to dismantle the institutional racism and inequalities that continue to disenfranchise Black Philadelphians is to look critically at how we got here, and make much-needed changes to the governmental systems that allow inequality to persist. This designation of Juneteenth represents our administration's commitment to reckon with our own role in maintaining racial inequities as well as our understanding of the magnitude of work that lies ahead.”
The designation, which will be done using an Executive Order, is for the year 2020. The administration will pursue all necessary steps to ensure Juneteenth continues to be an official city holiday in Philadelphia for years to come, according to a news release.
School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D., also announced that the District will also be closed on Friday, June 19, in recognition of the Juneteenth holiday.
“Juneteenth is a day of incredible significance for African Americans and our entire nation, and we are proud to honor this day together as a District,” Hite wrote in a letter to District employees that also included suggested ideas to honor the Juneteenth legacy.
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