PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has declared Juneteenth an official city holiday. The holiday commemorates the ending of slavery in America.
Kenney’s designation means all city offices and facilities will be closed to the public this Friday.
“For the past few years I’ve had the privilege of participating in our city’s annual Juneteenth parade and festival, which deepened my appreciation for this important holiday,” Kenney said. “Juneteenth has a unique cultural and historical significance; it symbolizes freedom, represents the triumph of emancipation, and marks a day of reflection. Now more than ever, it’s critically important to acknowledge America’s original sin of slavery—something we as a nation have never atoned for. The only way to dismantle the institutional racism and inequalities that continue to disenfranchise Black Philadelphians is to look critically at how we got here, and make much-needed changes to the governmental systems that allow inequality to persist. This designation of Juneteenth represents our administration’s commitment to reckon with our own role in maintaining racial inequities as well as our understanding of the magnitude of work that lies ahead.”
Earlier Tuesday, the Philadelphia School District joined the growing list of institutions closing for the celebration of Juneteenth.
The school district says it is closing in the spirit of solidarity and their continued commitment to anti-racism.
The University of Pennsylvania is also asking their community to take Juneteenth off for a day of reflection.