Yellow Springs to recognize Juneteenth as holiday

Yellow Springs Village Council voted unanimously Tuesday to recognize Juneteenth in the village.

Council president Brian Housh said he and councilman Kevin Stokes had raised the possibility of recognizing Juneteenth. Housh said it started with the Black Lives Matter movement last year, when Juneteenth became a more prominent holiday.

Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, the day slaves in Galveston, Texas received word of the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves in the United States. The day was two months after the Civil War ended. Texas has recognized the holiday since the 1980s and Ohio recognized it in 2009, according to the Village’s resolution.

In November 2016, Yellow Springs voted to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, celebrated the second Monday in October in place of Columbus Day. Ohio recognized Juneteenth in 2009 and Texas has recognized the holiday since 1980, the village said.

Housh said one of the village’s values is to be actively anti-racist.

“We’re not only celebrating the rich history of Black Americans in Yellow Springs, but also making it very clear that we are intentionally anti-racist,” he said.

Another village value is being a welcoming community to people of all backgrounds and all walks of life, he said, and that value was highlighted in the resolution.

“We want to let the region and the nation know where we’re coming from and we want to put those village values out there, hopefully to model those kinds of things for other communities,” Housh added.

Council vice president Marianne MacQueen suggested during discussion council speak with some local organizations to plan a celebration of the day, but no final plans have been made. The village’s website says information surrounding local celebrations of the holiday will be released as they are planned.

There was some discussion at the council meeting about making the holiday a paid holiday for village workers, but that has not yet been voted on. Housh said it may be brought up at the next council meeting.

The text of the resolution can be found here and on the Yellow Springs Village website under the council meeting for Jan. 19.

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