Atlanta Public Schools makes Juneteenth a paid holiday

Atlanta Public Schools employees will take Friday, Juneteenth, off as a paid holiday.

The school system joins a growing number of workplaces that are recognizing the day in 1865 when a Union major general arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that enslaved people were free.

The news came to Texas more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

This year, as protests and demands for racial justice and police reform spread across the nation and Atlanta, more employers have decided to mark Juneteenth.

At APS, employees who typically work throughout the summer will take the day off as a paid holiday.

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen announced the holiday in a blog post this week.

“Juneteenth should be a national holiday. There should be celebration, reflection, time to enjoy our freedom,” she wrote.

She said the day can serve as an opportunity to teach and learn about the significant moment. She encouraged people to think about what has happened since that day, “but also to recognize that we still have a long way to go.”

"Just as the first Juneteenth has been celebrated as (a) turning point for our nation, perhaps now, June 19, 2020, can be another crucial pivotal point for all in Atlanta Public Schools, our state, our nation and our world to recognize collectively that Black lives matter," she wrote. "And more hopefully, more people of different backgrounds, ideologies, and politics really understand that we work best as a nation united and not divided."