Howard County Executive Calvin Ball designated June 19th, known as Juneteenth National Freedom Day, as an official Howard County holiday. Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, marking the day when the news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached slaves in Galveston Texas, more than two years after it was signed. Photos of the event can be found here.
“Juneteenth is a historic day for our country, as the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States,” said Ball. “Today, we’re proud to announce that Juneteenth will be an official County holiday. In Howard County, we consistently recognize that diversity is our strength, and are always working to be more equitable and inclusive, that includes making sure that our community has the opportunity to recognize and learn more about this defining day.”
Juneteenth will be recognized as an official Howard County government holiday. Since June 19th falls on a Saturday, County employees will receive paid holiday leave on Friday, June 18th. As with other paid County holidays, County employees required to work on an employee holiday will receive pay based as articulated in the Employee Manual or their applicable bargaining agreement.
“We have celebrated Juneteenth in Howard County for a number of years, and the County Executive has always been so supportive, he is showing his usual foresight and sensitivity in taking the giant step of declaring this a holiday in Howard County. We invite everyone to join us on June 19th, to kick off our annual celebration,” said Dr. Everlene Cunningham, Chair of Howard County Center for African American Culture.
“This is a memorable day, an occasion to officially observe the oldest known celebration of the end of enslavement, Juneteenth. It demonstrates Howard County’s commitment to truth, justice, and Black liberation,” said Dr. Denise Boston, Equity and Restorative Practices Manager for the Office of Human Rights and Equity.
“I’m sure that when people in Galveston Texas got the word some of them were shouting, some singing, dancing, some were even crying, because they knew not what the future holds for them. Juneteenth is a day where we come together, expressing our feeling, joining with all group, and make sure we do not repeat our history again,” said Bessie Bordenave, Chair of the Harriet Tubman Foundation.
“I’m so pleased that Howard County is recognizing this day. I thought about this celebration, Juneteenth being two years late, and as far as we have come, we still have a way to go. So much of what is happening to African Americans and other people of color is still late, I hope that as Howard County elevates the celebration of Juneteenth, that we make sure children know their history and Black history is incorporated into American history,” said Barbara Peart, Elder on the Council of Elders.
“The holidays I learned about in school celebrated Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I never knew about Juneteenth, as a day to celebrate commemorating the end of slavery. Juneteenth was not evidenced in my school books, but fortunately no child in elementary, middle or high school in Howard County will be oblivious to the importance of Juneteenth in our lives. This holiday will now be remembered as a momentous event in Black history,” said Dr. Vernon Gray, Former District 2 Councilman.
“This commemoration remains important because it celebrates freedom, the very freedom this country represents freedom from oppression, tyranny, and social, economic and racial subjugation. This celebration reminds us that none of us are free until all of us are free, and able to enjoy those freedoms that we declare to be important,” said Dr. Elizabeth Sapp Jones, Associate Minister, First Baptist Church of Guilford.
“Juneteenth is such a celebration that it reminds us to understand the details of white supremacy before we talk about anything else, see the horror of it, know that our ancestors endured it, and know that we have a role in transforming into something that’s more positive and bold for everyone. Juneteenth is for everyone. Juneteenth set the stage for some type of emancipation for this whole country,” said Willie Flowers, President, NAACP Maryland State Conference/Howard County NAACP.