City of Dayton announces plans to acknowledge Juneteenth holiday

DECA Prep held a drive-through Juneteenth celebration at the school on Homewood Avenue in Dayton in 2020. Deaunna Watson organized the event and said family and community were invited to the COVID-19 aware event. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
DECA Prep held a drive-through Juneteenth celebration at the school on Homewood Avenue in Dayton in 2020. Deaunna Watson organized the event and said family and community were invited to the COVID-19 aware event. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

The City of Dayton announced its plans to recognize Juneteenth, with the new federal holiday to be a floating holiday this year and a city holiday starting in 2022.

“The City of Dayton understands the value of acknowledging Juneteenth as a holiday to commemorate the liberation of enslaved African Americans,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. “While this is a moment for celebration, we must also acknowledge how much work we still have to do to live up to our country’s founding ideals. As a city, we take this as an opportunity to redouble our commitment to racial justice and to ensure that Black Daytonians have the opportunity to thrive.”

ExploreDeWine: State offices closed today ahead of 1st official Juneteenth holiday

The city administration is working with employee labor unions to negotiate floating holiday for this year and to recognize Juneteenth as an annual city holiday beginning next year.

“Creating a workplace that is both inclusive and diverse is an endeavor we at the City takes seriously,” said City Manager Shelley Dickstein. “Recognizing Juneteenth as an official holiday is a great step in celebrating the diverse backgrounds of our employees while acknowledging that there is more, we can do as an organization to build a culture of racial equity.”

ExploreBiden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

President Joe Biden signed a bill Thursday making Juneteenth, or June 19, a federal holiday. It’s the 12th federal holiday and the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983, according to the Associated Press.

The holiday celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S. and stems from when Union soldiers told enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, that they were free on June 19, 1865.

ExploreCelebrate Juneteenth across Dayton at these community events