Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney designates Juneteenth as official city holiday

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Mayor Jim Kenney announced Tuesday that the City of Philadelphia has designated Juneteenth as an official city holiday.

As a result, city offices and facilities will be closed to the public on Friday to observe Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

"For the past few years I've had the privilege of participating in our city's annual Juneteenth parade and festival, which deepened my appreciation for this important holiday," said Kenney. "Juneteenth has a unique cultural and historical significance; it symbolizes freedom, represents the triumph of emancipation, and marks a day of reflection. Now more than ever, it's critically important to acknowledge America's original sin of slavery-something we as a nation have never atoned for. The only way to dismantle the institutional racism and inequalities that continue to disenfranchise Black Philadelphians is to look critically at how we got here, and make much-needed changes to the governmental systems that allow inequality to persist. This designation of Juneteenth represents our administration's commitment to reckon with our own role in maintaining racial inequities as well as our understanding of the magnitude of work that lies ahead."

According to a news release, Kenney consulted with members of the City's Reconciliation Steering Committee, a group established two weeks ago to lead the path of reconciliation and healing, focused on increasing racial equity, and enacting meaningful reforms to advance social and economic justice.

The designation, which will be done using an Executive Order, is for the year 2020.

Officials will now pursue all necessary steps to ensure Juneteenth continues to be an official city holiday in Philadelphia for years to come, the release said.