At the December Board Meeting, the Cook County Board voted to recognize Juneteenth as an official paid holiday for county government employees beginning in 2021. The ordinance amendment, sponsored by Commissioner Dennis Deer and Commissioner Stanley Moore, passed unanimously.
Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of Black Americans from slavery on June 19, 1865. When General Gordon Grainger arrived to Galveston, Texas, he issued an order announcing the end of the Civil War and freed the remaining slaves in the state. This news arrived more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law in January of 1863.
This resolution comes on the heels of a tumultuous year that left the public reeling after the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others to police and community violence. The needed conversations and demonstrations that arose only further highlighted the need to recognize, learn about, and celebrate the history of Black Americans.
Passage of this important Resolution makes Cook County the country's largest populated county to grant a paid day off to celebrate Juneteenth.