Anne Arundel County, Maryland, is officially recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday this year, for the first time.
June 19 — or Juneteenth for short — marks the day in 1865 when enslaved Black people in Texas finally learned they were free. That’s more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation outlawed slavery. It’s not a national holiday, but a ceremonial one in most states.
Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced the executive order at a signing ceremony Wednesday, making Juneteenth a county holiday in 2021. He says he’ll push to make it a permanent annual holiday.
“Juneteenth celebrates an opportunity for all residents of Anne Arundel County to mark a holiday of education, reflection and celebration, to educate ourselves on the history of our county, to celebrate the end of enslavement and to redouble our efforts to rid our society of its shameful legacy of racism, discrimination and inequity,” Pittman, reading from the order, said.
The county’s offices will be closed on Friday, June 18 in observance of the holiday, and a parade and other celebrations are planned for Saturday, June 19.
“We don’t have a holiday to celebrate freedom, liberty and justice for all. The things that we say when we pledge allegiance to the flag. Things that we’re still working on in this country and in this county,” said Pittman. “Juneteenth is a moment in history that, probably more than any other day in the history of this country in my view, was a large step forward.”
“This is a historic event for this county, given the significant number of hate crimes reported in this county in recent years,” said Jacqueline Allsup, president of the Anne Arundel County NAACP. She said Pittman “had the vision to recognize that inclusion requires action.”