FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2020
Jackson County Executive announces Juneteenth as County holiday
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. today signed an Executive Order announcing that County staff members will have a floating holiday on June 19, 2020 to mark Juneteenth Day and the end of slavery in America.
The County recognizes that its residents and the nation are facing two public health emergencies – one urgent emergency caused by COVID-19 and one deep-rooted emergency caused by racism. Today’s announcement reinforces Jackson County’s commitment to working toward racial equity and reforming policies that contribute to the systemic divide of opportunity and prosperity.
Jackson County Executive White is the first African-American elected to the position of County Executive.
“Juneteenth is a day for us to celebrate the rich history and culture of the Black community, as well as a time for us to reflect on the long struggle for civil rights that Black people in America continue to face today,” said Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. “Inside homes, neighborhoods and workplaces across Jackson County and our nation, there are difficult but necessary discussions happening about race and equality. It’s important that we use this opportunity to encourage everyone to listen, learn and grow. On a day that is often overlooked in American history, I am proud to say that Jackson County is taking a step forward in recognizing the significance of Juneteenth.”
State law requires County facilities and operations to remain open, however, department directors and supervisors are encouraged to be as flexible as possible in allowing staff time off on Friday. If a staff member chooses or is unable to take off this Friday, they have until the end of the year to use their additional floating holiday. County Executive White will work with members of the County Legislature to permanently recognize Juneteenth as a holiday.
Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of enslavement of Black people by white people in the United States. On June 19, 1865, two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Union soldiers arrived in Texas to read and enforce the proclamation that ended slavery. Starting in 1866, Juneteenth has been celebrated as the end of slavery in the United States.
Prior to issuing today’s executive order, the County Executive reached out to and received support from many elected officials.
View Executive Order here.