Minneapolis City Council makes Juneteenth official city holiday

The holiday’s formalization will offer city employees paid time off.

About 300 people gathered outside the Minnesota Capitol on Juneteenth last year to demand reparations for slavery. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)

The Minneapolis City Council announced that Juneteenth will be an official city holiday beginning this summer.

“Today the council recognizes the significant value that our African American employees bring to the City of Minneapolis. We join Hennepin County and so many other jurisdictions throughout the county in acknowledging this stain in American history,” City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins said in a press release.

“This is an important step in recognizing the reach of the hideous system of slavery within American history and the impacts that continue to show up today,” Jenkins added.

The holiday observed on June 19 commemorates the day America’s last slaves were freed in 1865. Juneteenth celebrates the liberation of African Americans two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The holiday’s formalization will offer city employees paid time off. The decision was made after several local employers said they will give their employees that day off to honor George Floyd’s death, as reported by the Star Tribune. Because June 19 falls on a Saturday in 2021, Minneapolis is expected to suspend non-essential work on June 18 in recognition of the holiday.

Mayor Jacob Frey signed the measure Monday. He stated, “Creating a truly more inclusive workplace won’t happen through any single action, but establishing Juneteenth as a permanent, official City holiday is a step in the right direction and an important acknowledgement of our history and African American experiences.”

Employees of Hennepin County will also be given Juneteenth as a paid holiday this summer, and county offices will be closed on Friday, June 18 to recognize the holiday, according to a press release.

Juneteenth is not the first holiday Minneapolis has established in an attempt to reconcile race relations in Minnesota. In 2014, the council replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s day to honor Native Americans.