Saying they wanted to acknowledge the “discriminatory, traumatic and generational harm caused by 400 years of slavery,” the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution to observe Juneteenth, an event commemorating the end of slavery in the United States on June 19th.
The resolution will officially commence with June 19, 2021, and cover all future observances of the day, which is the country’s oldest celebration commemorating the abolition of slavery and which also celebrates the freedom and achievements of Black Americans.
“Starting next year, all future June 19ths will be observed by Clackamas County government,” a news release from the county said. “This action does not extend to cities, municipalities, institutions or other businesses that work within Clackamas County, although the board encourages those bodies to observe the day.”
The full text of the resolution, signed by County Chair Jim Bernard, can be found here.
Though slaves were officially granted their freedom by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, the news traveled slowly among the slave-owning states that were — at that time — still in open rebellion against the federal government as the American Civil War continued to rage.
The last American slaves to be told of their freedom were those in Texas, the state most remote from the nation’s capital. It was on June 19, 1865, that Union army general Gordon Granger announced federal orders in Galveston, proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were free.
Juneteenth is an official state holiday in Texas, and was recognized in most other states, including Oregon, this year, in the wake of widespread protests aimed at racial inequality and police violence against Blacks.
Earlier this year, Governor Kate Brown announced plans to introduce legislation that would make Juneteenth an Oregon state holiday.