Fayetteville city offices closed for Juneteenth

A Juneteenth flag and a Pride flag fly alongside the city flag outside Fayetteville City Hall in June 2022.(City of Fayetteville)

FAYETTEVILLE — The city will officially celebrate Juneteenth when government offices close on Monday, June 19.

Both residential and commercial recycling and trash pick-up routes will run on schedule. However, the city’s trash transfer station will be closed.

Juneteenth, which recognizes the effective end of slavery in the U.S., was added to the city’s calendar of official paid holidays in 2021 when the City Council approved a proposal from Council Member D’Andre Jones that also makes the holiday a paid day off for city employees.

Juneteenth is observed on June 19 and commemorates the day when Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, in 1865 with news that the war had ended and that an estimated 250,000 enslaved African Americans in Texas were now free — nearly two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery.

In 2021, Congress and President Joe Biden made Juneteenth a national holiday. It was the first new national holiday designation since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was approved in 1983.

Under Fayetteville’s new law, city offices will close annually on June 19. If the holiday falls on a Saturday, offices will close the Friday before, and if it falls on a Sunday, offices will close the Monday after.

When the Fayetteville holiday was proposed, several residents spoke to the council, including Raven Cook with the Northwest Arkansas chapter of the NAACP.

Cook said the resolution offers Fayetteville a chance to reflect on how the legacy of systems tied to American caste and white supremacy still impacts the community today.

“Juneteenth is a part of the history I carry,” said Cook. “It is in the echoes of my voice, it is in my flesh and my spirit. And I am a resident of this city.”

That history, she said, is tied to enslaved Africans who were brought to the U.S. through forced migration, most who were taken from their language, their families, and their culture.

Cook said understanding those systems and approving policies for change can move a city toward not just inclusive language, but also inclusive practice.

Jones agreed, and said while the city is welcoming, it’s important to continue to push for change.

“When I think about Fayetteville, I think about diversity, I think about inclusion and I think about equity, but there’s one aspect that’s missing, and that is belonging,” Jones said. “If we adopt this resolution, I believe that is the first step of African Americans and other disenfranchised individuals saying, ‘I belong in Fayetteville.’”