Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, is a holiday celebrated on June 19th and commemorates the date slaves were officially freed. On Thursday, June 3rd, Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller announced that Montclair will be observing Friday, June 18th as a public holiday in order to commemorate Juneteenth. Read on to learn more about Juneteenth and what Mayor Spiller had to say.
The History of Juneteenth
Juneteenth, or June 19th, is the date that officially recognizes the day in which slaves were freed. Although President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863 it took about two and a half years for the news to reach the southern states where there were still enslaved people. About 250,000 people were still being used as slaves until Union General Gordon Granger informed the people of Texas that all slaves were free.
Juneteenth is not a federal holiday. There are currently three states that do not recognize the holiday. In September of 2020, Governor Murphy signed into legislation that the third Friday in June will be a State and public holiday celebrating Juneteenth. Mayor Spiller recently announced that Montclair will also be observing June 18th as Juneteenth, a public holiday. As a result, all municipal offices will be closed, and refuse and recycling collection will not take place that day.
Making it a Public Holiday
In the announcement from the township, Mayor Spiller said “Juneteenth is not only a celebration of this momentous period in our history but also a day that affords us an opportunity to consider how much more needs to be done to ensure true equity and justice for all Americans. The need to recognize the challenges we still face as a nation, to confront the systemic racism rooted in so many of our institutions, and to truly live up to the ideals prescribed in the founding documents of this great nation is a call to action that each of us, as Americans, need to answer.”