UPDATED: Proposal would make Juneteenth an official, paid holiday for city employees in Fayetteville

D’Andre Jones / Courtesy photo

UPDATE: The City Council voted 8-0 to make Juneteenth an official city holiday, starting in 2022.

City Council members next week will consider a proposal to make Juneteenth an official city holiday in Fayetteville.

If approved, June 19 would be a paid day off for city workers starting in 2022.

Juneteenth — also known as Freedom Day and Emancipation Day, Liberation Day and Jubilee Day — commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. It celebrates the day when Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, in 1865 with news that the war had ended and that the estimated 250,000 enslaved African Americans in Texas were now free.

The proposal was brought forward by Council Member D’Andre Jones.

Jones said he included a one-year delay before the holiday becomes a paid day off in case there are any budgetary issues that arise from city employees being off work on June 19. By waiting until 2022, he said, the council can go through its regular budget-setting meeting to ensure the city is prepared for an additional paid holiday.

The council will discuss the idea at the next regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 1.

The proposal is included below.

A Resolution for the City of Fayetteville to Recognize and Observe Juneteenth as an official holiday

Whereas, on September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of American were freed; and

Whereas, on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take command of his federal troops, to announce General Order No. 3 freeing all former slaves, and to enforce the emancipation of all enslaved persons in Texas (estimated to be about 250,000); and

Whereas, General Granger read General Order No 3 at several locations in Galveston ending at what was known as the Negro Church on Broadway where he told the congregation: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with the proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves…”; and

Whereas, June 19th began to be celebrated in Texas as Juneteenth the next year, spread throughout the United States for the next century and a half, and has become one of the most recognized and honored celebrations of freedom in the United States; and

Whereas, Arkansas and forty-six other states recognize and honor Juneteenth; and

Whereas, in 1997, the United States Congress also recognized Juneteenth as the Independence Day Observance of Americans of African Descent; and

Whereas, Juneteenth has also been celebrated as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day and represents the completion of the “cycle of freedom” along with America’s Independence Day celebrations; and

Whereas, Americans of all colors, creeds, cultures, religions, and countries-of-origin share a common love of and respect for freedom, as well as the determination to protect their freedom through democratic institutions; and

Whereas, it is proper and appropriate for the City of Fayetteville to recognize and support Juneteenth as an honored holiday because: “Until all are free, none are free”; and

Whereas, many organizations support the City of Fayetteville’s recognition and observance of Juneteenth as a city holiday including:

Mayor Jordan’s African American Advisory Council
Northwest Arkansas Martin Luther King Council
University of Arkansas Black Alumni Society
University of Arkansas Black Employee Group
Northwest Arkansas NAACP
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
St. James Baptist Church
Fellowship of Champions Church
Black Action Collective
Perry Broadcasting
PHA Hill City Masonic Lodge #347; and
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Phi Alpha Omega Chapter

Whereas, Washington County Quorum Court Member Shawdra Washington and Fayetteville Council Member D’Andre Jones support establishing Juneteenth as a City of Fayetteville holiday.

Now, therefore, be it resolved by the City Council of the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas:

Section 1: That the City Council of the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas hereby resolves that the City of Fayetteville recognize, honor and observe Juneteenth as a formal, paid City holiday to encourage education and community service by its employees beginning on June 19, 2022.

Section 2: That the City Council of the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas hereby calls on all persons to reflect on the history of slavery in the United States and the historic struggle of African Americans to end slavery and discrimination in all its forms so there will finally be “Freedom and Justice for All.”