Washington County announced this month that it will be offering Juneteenth as a paid holiday to its employees.
Oregon's second-most-populous county joins Clackamas and Multnomah counties, as well as the federal government and the state in designating the day as an official paid holiday.
Juneteenth recognizes the day Major General Gordon Granger declared that all slaves were free on June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln's Jan. 1, 1863, Emancipation Proclamation.
Originating in Galveston, Texas, the holiday has been celebrated by Black citizens every year on June 19 in various parts of the nation since 1865.
"Celebrating Juneteenth as a paid holiday in Washington County shows that we are truly committed to acknowledging oppression in our country's past and changing our governmental structures to create broad awareness and, more importantly, healing for our community and our workforce," Board of County Commissioners Chair Kathryn Harrington said.
Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Latricia Tillman said Juneteenth represents a more complete history of the United States.
"When the first Independence Day was celebrated and for nearly a century afterward, not all people born in the United States were independent. That holiday has rung hollow for many who have generations of ancestors who were enslaved," Tillman said. "Juneteenth is significant because it represents the time when all people in the United States would finally be deemed free under the law. It represents resilience and a recognition of a more complete history of the pathway to freedom in the United States."
Because June 19 falls on a Sunday in 2022, the holiday will be recognized by Washington County on Monday, June 20.
County buildings will not be open to the public that day but services that are provided on a 24-hour basis will continue.
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