On Wednesday, June 17, 2020, the Riviera Beach City Council unanimously adopted a resolution commemorating and celebrating “Juneteenth Day” in the City of Riviera Beach. This action resulted in Juneteenth Day being recognized as an official city holiday in perpetuity commencing this Friday, June 19, 2020. Juneteenth marks a significant day for African-Americans. It was on June 19, 1865, that Major General Gordon Granger delivered news enforcing the president’s order to free the slaves, more than two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which became effective on January 1, 1863. The day on which this information was delivered is referred to as Juneteenth. It is important to commemorate this day, as systems of oppression such as sharecropping, Jim Crow, redlining, and mass incarceration have adversely impacted the black community and affected the physical and mental health and safety of all individuals of color. For more than 154 years, “Juneteenth Day” has been recognized nationally and even in some cases internationally.
As we celebrate the importance of “Juneteenth Day,” let us not forget the trials and tribulations that African-Americans have faced in the past and even in present-day America. This nation was built by many individuals, and the work of African-Americans to make America the greatest nation in the world is interwoven into the fabric of who we are. Though African-American contributions are diminished or forgotten, it is incumbent upon us, the next generation and future generations, to ensure the stories, hardships and sacrifices of our predecessors are recognized and celebrated, so that we might become a better version of them to carry out the ideals that all men and women are created equal, should be provided equal opportunity and access, and deserve fair, equal protection under the law. As we commemorate this day by being one of the first cities in the state to recognize “Juneteenth Day” as a city holiday, let us not become complacent or complicit but continue to fight for what is right for all those who have carried the torch before us.
In closing, we look forward to the day of celebrating the liberation of African-Americans. However, we know that true liberation and fair and equitable treatment still pose a continual challenge that must be fought on Wall Street, on Main Street, on Front Street, and in the classroom. For anywhere there is an injustice, we must coalesce with one another for justice.
In observance of “Juneteenth Day,” all city offices will be closed.