Juneteenth has replaced Columbus Day as an official holiday in Fulton County.
Fulton County commissioners voted last week to swap the holidays. Starting in 2021, Fulton will commemorate the anniversary of American slaves learning about their freedom by closing county offices and giving employees the day off on June 19. If the holiday falls on a Saturday, offices will close the Friday prior to June 19. If it falls on Sunday, the Monday following June 19 will be off.
The holiday celebrates June 19, 1865 — when slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned that they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and more than two months after the end of the Civil War.
“I am honored and proud to represent the tradition of metro Atlanta and Fulton County leadership in the continuing fight for equity and justice for all residents,” said Fulton Commissioner Joe Carn, who sponsored the effort.
Many Black Americans have long commemorated Juneteenth, especially in Texas. But Juneteenth gained new national attention amid ongoing protests over police violence and systemic racism against Black Americans.
“I believe that we are witnessing something that our ancestors have been waiting and praying over for years,” Carn said.
As for removing Columbus Day, there’s been a bubbling movement to replace the Oct. 12 celebration of Christopher Columbus with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Ben Brasch is the reporter tasked with keeping Fulton County government accountable. The Florida native moved to Atlanta for a job with The AJC. If there's something important to you going on in Fulton, he wants to know about it. Help him better metro Atlanta by dropping a line, anonymously or otherwise.