By The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday signed a proclamation making Juneteenth an official city holiday to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States.
Garcetti said during a signing ceremony at City Hall that the commemoration was overdue and a small step toward undoing systemic racism in the nation.
“We need every Angeleno to learn the full story of our past, no matter the ugliness of some of its chapters, and that means recognizing the lasting legacy of slavery in our country,” Garcetti said.
The holiday marks the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, two months after the Confederacy surrendered. It was about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Southern states.
President Joe Biden signed a bill last year making Juneteenth a federal holiday. The Los Angeles proclamation makes it a paid holiday for all city employees.
The LA City Council voted unanimously in 2020 to start the process of making Juneteenth a Los Angeles holiday.
Councilmember Curren Price said at the time that he was moved to introduce the measure following nationwide demonstrations demanding racial equity and protesting the killings of Black Americans by police.
Price said Monday that the city’s proclamation “offers a sense of vindication” for Black Angelenos.
“Juneteenth for the Black community serves as a brighter chapter. Our freedom day. Our true day of emancipation. This will now be a day of remembrance for our City,” Price said in a statement.