East Orange establishes Juneteenth as official city holiday

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EAST ORANGE, NJ — Mayor Ted Green announced plans to designate June 19, also known as Juneteenth, as an official city holiday to commemorate the day that the slaves in Texas received word of their emancipation. The announcement was made during the city’s virtual Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony in front of City Hall.

According to history, June 19, 1865, is the date that the Union Army’s Major Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of both the Civil War and slavery. The declaration came almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation.  

“This designation of Juneteenth as a holiday represents my administration’s commitment not only to honor our ancestors, but also to focus our efforts on dismantling the racial injustices and systemic racism that has plagued the lives of black people everywhere,” Green said. “This is not just about a holiday, however. The holiday is symbolic. The intent behind it is what really counts and that’s a collective demand for reform and policies that will bring meaningful and lasting change in our communities.” 

Under the sponsorship of Third Ward Councilman Vernon Pullins, chairperson of the Law and Legislation Committee, the East Orange City Council presented a resolution to support the proposed holiday during the June 22 regular council meeting. 

In previous years, East Orange has hosted a variety of celebrations in honor of Juneteenth, including a pop-up historical display during its annual East Orange MACFest, but this is the first year that the city has hosted a flag raising. 

“The members of the City Council stand with the mayor and citizens of this great city to pause to recognize June 19 as Juneteenth,” East Orange City Council Chairperson Christopher James said. “Please remember that slavery did not end overnight and was instead a long journey to freedom for black people. We have made great strides over the years, yet as the current events remind us, we are far from done to achieve equality.”