Recently, 2020, Mayor Steve Benjamin and the City of Columbia City Council approved a resolution to declare Juneteenth a City of Columbia holiday and beginning June 19, 2021 will begin observing the day as an official City holiday. Juneteenth will be observed in addition to the other 10 holidays observed by the City of Columbia every year. City offices will be closed and employees will be granted the day off with pay. Because June 19, 2021 is a Saturday, Juneteenth will be observed on Friday, June 18, 2021.
“This important moment in the history of our country gives us a tremendous opportunity to properly contextualize the contributions of those that came before us,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “Earlier this year, we adopted a new city flag that is based on the value of inclusion. Now, we are taking an important symbolic step to recognize the sacrifices of the enslaved men and women who helped build this city, and this nation. Establishing Juneteenth as a city holiday is a way to celebrate the end of one of the darkest periods in human history.”
June 19th, Juneteenth, is recognized as the end of slavery and is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth was officially declared a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and a number of other states subsequently followed suit to celebrate the culture and achievements of African Americans globally. The country has recently seen racial injustice and violence toward African-American citizens which have resulted in national protests, demonstrations, and a unification of voices crying out for the need for judicial racial reform. The Juneteenth holiday is being implemented by the City of Columbia to pay tribute and recognize the holiday’s enormous racial and cultural significance in this country.