Johnson County votes to recognize Juneteenth as an observed county holiday

Thursday Oct. 7, Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted (7 to 0) to add Juneteenth to the standard, fixed holidays for Johnson County Government for the year 2022 and subsequent years. In making the decision, the BOCC took into consideration the interests of the public in having access to the services of the government and the value of honoring and recognize dates of importance to our country, community and employees. Designating Juneteenth as a county holiday recognizes the significance of freedom for all.

“By observing Juneteenth as a standard holiday, we are making clear to our community and our workforce that we understand and value the meaning of Juneteenth,” said County Commission Chairman Ed Eilert. “We also hope it will grow awareness for those not familiar with the holiday and its significance.”

It has been nearly 20 years since any changes were made to the county schedule of observed holidays. The BOCC added Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Veterans Day to the list of observed holidays for the 2002 calendar year.  The county values being a caring and inclusive workplace.

“We recognize the value of diversity in our community,” said Johnson County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson.  “Elevating this day for our workforce is a step in the right direction of being a welcoming and inclusive organization. It will be beneficial in recruiting and retaining employees, which ultimately benefits all of Johnson County.”

Many cities in Johnson County and the region, as well as other large Kansas counties, have added Juneteenth as an observed holiday or are in the process of doing so. On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday to be observed on June 19. Federal employees were given work off that Friday, June 18, to observe the holiday.

History of Juneteenth

Juneteenth recognizes federal troops entering Texas in 1865, to deliver the message of freedom to 250,000 enslaved individuals. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, which officially outlawed slavery in Texas and other secessionist southern states that were in rebellion with the Union. Freedom for slaves in those states did not come automatically with the Proclamation. As Union troops advanced through the Confederacy, they brought forth news and enforcement of the Proclamation; with Texas being the most remote and last of those states. Juneteenth originated in Galveston, Texas, and has been celebrated annually in various parts of the United States since 1865.

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