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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2023
SAN DIEGO – Mayor Todd Gloria and the City Council have designated “Juneteenth,” which commemorates the end of slavery, an official paid holiday for City of San Diego employees. Today, City Council unanimously approved the Mayor’s recommendation to make Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, a paid day off for all City staff starting in 2023.
“The official acknowledgment and recognition of this significant day in American History is an important step for the City of San Diego,” said Mayor Gloria. “The ending of slavery is a pivotal moment that should be honored and celebrated. I encourage San Diegans to set aside time on Juneteenth to reflect on our country’s history, including the parts that are painful, and to help us work towards designing a more equitable future without systemic racism.”
Making Juneteenth a paid holiday for City workers is part of Mayor Gloria’s ongoing efforts to create a more inclusive San Diego and celebrate the City’s diversity. Alongside Mayor Gloria, Council President pro Tem Monica Montgomery Steppe and Councilmember Vivian Moreno were the chief proponents of making Juneteenth a paid holiday for the City of San Diego, initiating the process in 2021.
“By honoring Juneteenth in our City, we choose to recognize the insidious history of our country and the sacrifices to achieve freedom for Black Americans,” said Council President pro Tem Montgomery Steppe, who represents Council District 4. "Today, our City made positive strides to realize the fight for true freedom among Black San Diegans.”
“As the City Councilmember representing San Diego Council District 8, I am proud to support the recognition of Juneteenth as a City holiday,” said Councilmember Vivian Moreno. “It is imperative for us not to forget the stain of slavery and the impact it has had on countless Black Americans. It is well past due that the city officially recognize the importance of Juneteenth by establishing it as a city holiday so that our employees and communities can better commemorate it with neighborhood celebrations, educational opportunities and family gatherings.”
Historically, Juneteenth was only celebrated at City Hall in the form of a presentation through District 4 and the City of San Diego’s Black Employee Association. For the first time ever in 2020, a Juneteenth flag was hung commemorating Juneteenth at City Hall. In 2021, the flag was raised outside of the City Hall building for the first time ever as Mayor Gloria, Councilmembers Montgomery Steppe and Marni von Wilpert joined community members in proclaiming Juneteenth in the city.
June 19, 1865, is the day when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, and announced to over 250,000 enslaved Black people that they were free by executive decree – two years after the U. S. government had declared them freed.
President Joe Biden signed Senate Bill 475 on June 17, 2021, establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, and Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1655 on September 29, 2022, establishing it as a state holiday.