WHEREAS, Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery recognizing June 19th, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas that the Civil War had ended and enslaved Black people were freed; and WHEREAS, the local celebration of June 19th a year later became known as “Juneteenth” and “Freedom Day.” The holiday spread nationwide and was passed on through the descendants of freed Black people. The date becoming highly revered in Texas decades later, with many freed people and their descendants making an annual visit to Galveston to celebrate; and
WHEREAS, Juneteenth has become a national day of celebration and education including parades, picnics, storytelling, guest speakers, religious services, and political activity; and WHEREAS; Oregon had Black Exclusion Laws that limited the rights of Black people in Oregon preventing them from working and living in the state. Oregon’s exclusionary past and systemic racism has led to continued hardship and undue burden on Black Oregonians that is still present to this day; and WHEREAS; systemic racism throughout the country including education inequity, wealth inequity, the prison industrial complex, and other forms of systemic racism have all led to public outcry and introspection about the state of race relations in our country and community and a need for improvements and progress in addressing racial inequity; and WHEREAS; responding to public outcry, many elected officials, activists, and educators have called for more awareness of the contributions of African Americans to our society and the naming of Juneteenth as an observed public and government holiday, to allow persons of all ethnicities and races to recognize the legacy of slavery and racism in our country; and to celebrate all the positive accomplishments of African Americans in the United States; and WHEREAS, on June 17th, 2021 President Joseph R. Biden signed the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act” making Juneteenth a federal holiday and on June 19th, 2021 Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill 2168 into law, making Juneteenth a state holiday; and WHEREAS; Benton County wishes to follow our federal and state leaders and recognize Juneteenth as part of our 2040 Thriving Communities Initiative based on the principles of Equity & Health; and WHEREAS; Benton County government recognizes Juneteenth to be a day of reflection of race relations in the country and to stress the importance of racial parity, equity, and justice. NOW, THEREFORE BE IT,RESOLVED, that the Benton County Board of Commissioners hereby approves the naming of Juneteenth as an annual observed Benton County government holiday and encourages all staff and community members to participate in celebration, education, reflection, and community events.