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St. Louis officially designates June 19 as 'Juneteenth Day'

The mayor said a formal process is underway to make Juneteenth a city holiday. Meanwhile, one department already is recognizing the day by closing early Friday

ST. LOUIS — The City of St. Louis will officially recognize Juneteenth as a city holiday beginning this Friday.

Mayor Lyda Krewson signed the proclamation Thursday designating June 19, 2020 – and every June 19 from now on – as “Juneteenth Day” in the city.

“Juneteenth originally celebrated the dismantling of American slavery. Today, it highlights the continued struggle to dismantle the symbols of systemic racism. Recent events have shown us that we still have work to do to fulfill the hope of Juneteenth and ensure we all enjoy the same freedoms,” Mayor Krewson said in an emailed statement.

Juneteenth celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States.

“The City of St. Louis recognizes this important holiday as an opportunity for the City to educate residents about African American heritage and honor their lives, sacrifices, and many contributions to this country. Citywide recognition of this day will provide an opportunity to unify all St. Louisans against racism,” Krewson added.

RELATED: These companies are giving their employees time off for Juneteenth

During her Facebook Live briefing Wednesday afternoon, a viewer asked the mayor whether the city would designate Juneteenth as an official holiday. She replied that it’s an expensive move to give all city employees another holiday, but that she was committed to making that designation beginning next year.

“The question is, do we trade a holiday we already have for Juneteenth or do we add another holiday? Those are all things that are being considered as we speak,” she said.

Mayor Krewson also said St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green brought up the topic during their budget meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Twenty-four hours later, Green announced the comptroller’s office would recognize Juneteenth this year by closing at 1 p.m.

“I am heartened that people in St. Louis and around the world are calling for greater equity in their communities,” said Comptroller Green. “From big cities to small towns a diverse coalition of more and more Americans are becoming involved, embracing the Black Lives Matter movement, and committing to making our country more equal and just.”

RELATED: Juneteenth celebrations in the St. Louis area

Mayor Krewson said she has requested the city’s personnel director to start the formal process of making Juneteenth a recognized holiday for the City of St. Louis beginning in the next fiscal year. That would make it a paid holiday for all city employees beginning June 19, 2021.

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