DeKalb makes Juneteenth a county holiday

Juneteenth is now a paid holiday for DeKalb County employees.

DeKalb’s Board of Commissioners made the holiday official with a unanimous vote Tuesday afternoon. Starting next year, it will be observed annually on June 19.

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The holiday dates back to 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.

Many Black Americans have long commemorated the occasion, particularly in Texas. But Juneteenth has gained new national attention amid ongoing protests over police violence and systemic racism against Black Americans.

This year, Juneteenth in DeKalb corresponded with the removal of a Confederate monument that had stood on the downtown Decatur square since the early 1900s.

Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson sponsored the resolution to make Juneteenth a DeKalb holiday.