County Becomes State’s First to Recognize Juneteenth as a Paid Holiday

Supervisor Cortese’s Proposal Receives Strong Community Support
Photo Credit: Unsplash

Office of Supervisor Dave Cortese

The County of Santa Clara became the first in the State to designate Juneteenth a paid County holiday with a unanimous vote for Supervisor Dave Cortese’s proposal at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday September 22.

Starting June 19, 2021, Juneteenth will be a paid holiday for County employees to recognize the end of slavery in the U.S., 30 months and 19 days after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.  It was not until June 19, 1865, that Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas, with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

“Designating Juneteenth as a holiday in Santa Clara County is especially significant in the wake of protests over systemic racism here and across the nation,” Supervisor Cortese said. “This historic vote recognizes the legacy of injustice to people of color and the work that still remains to ensure that freedom exists for all.”

On August 21, the Board voted to allocate $2.3 million to be put into a reserve to fund declaring Juneteenth as a County holiday. Tuesday’s final vote makes the holiday official.

The vote was preceded by speakers who supported Supervisor Cortese’s proposal. Supervisors also received many letters and voices of support from the community before the Board of Supervisors meeting.

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