Jefferson County commissioners commemorate Juneteenth holiday

Posted 6/17/22

Jefferson County commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution at their meeting Monday declaring June 19, 2022 as Juneteenth, a holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United …

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Jefferson County commissioners commemorate Juneteenth holiday

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Jefferson County commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution at their meeting Monday declaring June 19, 2022 as Juneteenth, a holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

With June 19 falling on a Sunday this year, county offices will be closed on Monday, June 20 to mark the holiday.

“I know for me what it represents is the annual reminder that Americans have a responsibility to continue to grapple with our history, and part of our history is a really lovely striving to be the first plural democracy in the world,” Commissioner Kate Dean said before the proclamation was approved.

“And part of our history is that we’ve done that imperfectly, and that we continue to strive to do a better job of it,” she said.

Dean noted Jefferson County was an early adopter of the Juneteenth holiday in Washington state, and added that 2022 marks the first year that Juneteenth is a state holiday.

“I just appreciate us putting this stake in the ground and saying that this is important to us and important to our community,” added Commissioner Heidi Eisenhour.

Juneteenth recognizes June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas and proclaimed the last remaining slaves to be freed in the United States — 2 ½ years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

The proclamation unanimously adopted by county commissioners details the legacy of slavery in the United States and the continuing systemic economic discrimination and racism that exists in the country.

It also notes: “Jefferson County has, like most counties, a history of racism dating from its inception as a result of the United States of America colonizing the land of the indigenous peoples who had stewarded these lands and waters from time immemorial — the Sklallam, Chimacum, Twanoh, Skokomish, Makah, Hoh, Quileute, Ozette, Suquamish, Quinault, and others.”

The proclamation also notes that “racism lives on to this day across the Olympic Peninsula.”

In recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday celebrating African American liberation in Jefferson County, the proclamation also calls for all residents to:

“Honor the culture and contributions that African Americans make to the fabric of our society and communities;

“Learn about and acknowledge the history and legacy of racism in the United States;

“Recognize that confronting racism is an American act in our country’s foundational aspirations to form a pluralistic democracy and a more perfect union;

“Identify the ways that racism persists in perpetuating poverty and violence;

“Take personal responsibility to call out privilege and bias in ourselves, our communities and our institutions; and

“Recommit ourselves to achieving the American ideal of equality for all, and recognition that until Black Lives Matter, we have fallen short of that promise.”

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