BLOOMINGTON – In recognition of the new federal holiday establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, Mayor John Hamilton has announced that the City of Bloomington will close its offices on Monday, June 21.
City employees who are not scheduled in essential capacities will not be expected to report for work and will receive holiday pay for the day. The City’s sanitation schedule will not be delayed.
Juneteenth is not on the 2021 City of Bloomington holiday calendar, but in addition to observing the new holiday on Monday, the administration will present a resolution to Council for its official adoption as a holiday in 2022.
Juneteenth is the first federal holiday established since Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1983. This annual, national celebration of freedom was signed into legislation today by President Joe Biden, and will be observed by the federal government immediately with a holiday for federal workers, programs, and facilities on Friday, June 18.
“We are thrilled to join hands across the country to celebrate Juneteenth,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “As Reverend King said, the time is always right to do what is right, and I am very glad we can observe this long-awaited, long-delayed national recognition together.”
Also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, Juneteenth commemorates the date the last group of those who had been enslaved in the United States were informed of their freedom. Originating in Galveston, Texas, Juneteenth is now commemorated annually on the anniversary of the June 19, 1865 announcement by Union Army General Gordon Granger, declaring freedom from slavery in Texas. The news of emancipation arrived in Texas two and a half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which recognized and maintained the freedom of enslaved persons, in 1863.
“I am gratified that our country, and our City, have chosen to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday,” said Bloomington City Council President Jim Sims. “While our ancestors back in Texas had to wait two and a half years to learn of their emancipation, communication from Washington is traveling faster these days so that we’re all participating in this national celebration of freedom together.”
All are invited to join a Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 19 hosted by the City of Bloomington from 3 to 6:30 p.m. at Switchyard Park (1601 South Rogers Street). The community-wide, family-friendly gathering will feature free food, games, and music, with Black-owned businesses on-site offering additional products for sale. Activities will take place at the shelter, the great lawn, and the spray pad. Those attending may bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages, chairs, and picnic blankets (there is limited seating in the park as well). Those attending will be asked to adhere to COVID-19 safety measures; fully vaccinated community members are not required to wear masks.