Municipal officials designated Juneteenth, a day that marks the end of slavery in America, as a public holiday on Tuesday.
Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19. Employees of the city of Paterson will receive a paid day off, just as they do for other major holidays.
“We’ve always celebrated Juneteenth, we just didn’t celebrate it as a citywide holiday,” said councilwoman Lilisa Mimms. “To me it represents freedom.”
Indeed, African Americans in Paterson have celebrated Juneteenth for decades by holding parades, family gatherings, picnics, and prayers.
The holiday was largely unknown to most Americans, many people learned about Juneteenth for the first time as George Floyd protests swept across the country.
On June 19, 1863, some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, to announce more than 250,000 Black Americans in the state were free from bondage.
“The observance of this day, known as Juneteenth, is a reminder of the hardships and losses suffered by African Americans in their continued struggle to attain freedom and justice,” states the measure approved by the City Council.
Mimms sponsored and Ruby Cotton co-sponsored the measure.
In June, mayor Andre Sayegh used an executive order to designate Juneteenth as a paid public holiday.
Mimms said the measure passed on Tuesday makes Juneteenth a permanent public holiday.
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Updated 1:45 p.m.