NYC mayor declares Juneteenth paid holiday for city employees

by Abdulhaqq Obisesan Oladimeji
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Juneteenth will be a paid city holiday this year for the first time in the five boroughs’ history, Mayor Eric Adams said Monday.

The holiday, which falls on June 19 each year, is “a time for reflection, assessment and self-improvement,” Adams said in a statement released Monday morning.

“As the second Black mayor of New York City, I know that I stand on the shoulders of countless heroes and sheroes who put their lives on the line to secure a more perfect union,” he said. “Now is the time for me to do a small part and recognize one of our nation’s greatest wrongs.”

Juneteenth dates back to June 19, 1865, the day federal troops informed enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas that the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863 had freed them.

Former Mayor Bill de Blasio declared Juneteenth a city holiday in June 2020, but his administration did not officially make the date a paid holiday before he left office.

A spokesperson for de Blasio in January 2021 told The City the administration was still trying to iron out the details with several city unions.

“This entails negotiations with unions over pay schedules, which are detailed in multiple contracts,” the spokesperson said in a statement provided to the outlet. “That’s a lot of work, but it’s certainly worth it to give Juneteenth the status it is owed.”

Former President Joe Biden and former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, signed laws making Juneteenth a federal and state holiday, respectively, but those laws did not apply to New York City’s municipal employees.

Adams on Monday said the move to make the date a paid holiday was “long overdue,” adding that it would “immediately take effect this year.”

The public holiday for Juneteenth this year will fall on Monday, June 20, as June 19 is a Sunday.

“People across the country of all races, nationalities and religions unite on this day to truthfully acknowledge the stain of slavery and celebrate the countless contributions of Black Americans,” Adams said in his statement. “Holding a mirror to our nation’s past atrocities is never easy, but it is necessary.”

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