Mayor Fischer declares Juneteenth a holiday for city workers, starting in 2021

June 19, 2020

In celebration of Juneteenth, Mayor Greg Fischer earlier today signed an executive order declaring that starting in 2021, the day will be honored as a holiday for Louisville Metro Government (LMG) workers.

“It’s important for us to recognize that not every American attained freedom on July 4, 1776. For enslaved African Americans, freedom came almost a century later,” said the Mayor, adding that Juneteenth – the annual Freedom Day celebration to commemorate the belated announcement in 1865 to enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War was over – is “an important moment in our nation’s history, and every American should commemorate this day.”

Mayor Fischer noted, however, that not everyone gained freedom on Juneteenth. “In Kentucky, slavery didn’t officially end until ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 18, 1865,” he said, adding that, “The heartbreaking truth was that while they were legally free, most former slaves had no wealth, few resources and faced vicious and violent resistance to exercising their Constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“And that’s still a heartbreaking challenge today,” he said. “While we’ve made progress, certainly, it’s not nearly enough.”

Yesterday, Governor Andy Beshear signed a proclamation declaring today as National Juneteenth Freedom Day in Kentucky. The Governor said he also would be requesting the state General Assembly to “make Juneteenth an official state holiday” next session.  

In the meantime, Mayor Fischer said he hopes the executive order for city employees “will spur more local businesses to consider making Juneteenth an official holiday for their employees.”

The Mayor made his announcement this morning during a Facebook panel discussion celebrating Juneteenth with guests state Senator Gerald Neal, LMG Chief of Equity Kendall Boyd, longtime civil rights activist and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award recipient Mattie Jones, Aukram Burton, Executive Director of the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, and Sydney Tucker, a member of the Mayor’s One Love Louisville Youth Implementation Team.

The Mayor closed by saying he finds “tremendous hope in the peaceful protests we’re seeing and in the energy throughout our country to create transformation and achieve equity and justice for people in our country who have been denied that.”