Earlier today, South Fulton’s City Council voted to recognize Juneteenth as an official city holiday. The legislation, first introduced in 2019, was sponsored by Councilmembers khalid kamau, Carmalitha Gumbs, Naeema Gilyard and Mark Baker.
“We should own this holiday,” said kamau. “Here on the southside, we are still driving down streets named by men who fought to keep our ancestors as slaves. With all that’s going on in our country right now, Black people deserve to have places in America where being Black is not an obstacle to overcome, where we are actually celebrated.”
Juneteenth marks the date – June 19, 1865 – when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and declared “that all persons held as slaves” had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation issued in September of 1862 and effective Jan. 1, 1863. Some enslavers ignored the order until the Union troops arrived to enforce it.
This year, the City of South Fulton celebrated the holiday with a virtual concert, featuring music, dance and theatrical performances. Next year, it will be a paid holiday for city employees, and preliminary celebratory plans include a concert and an arts and food festival that could stretch over two days.
The budget for the holiday has been set at $150,000. The city will seek corporate sponsors with the goal of making it a revenue neutral holiday.
“Juneteenth represents one of the most significant moments not only in African American history, but also in American history,” said Mayor William “Bill” Edwards. “With the current climate of change in our nation, it is only fitting that we officially celebrate not just the end of slavery, but also more than 150 years of freedom and progress.”