CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Caddo Parish Commission will consider a resolution Thursday recognizing Juneteenth as an official parish holiday.
Commissioner Steven Jackson is expected to introduced Resolution 44, which would designate June 19 of each year as “Juneteenth Independence Day” in Caddo Parish.
“To make sure we can reflect on the independence and the emancipation of African Americans. It is a reality,” Jackson said in a news conference Wednesday in which members of the commission laid out nine resolutions they have come up with to address issues of racial justice amplified in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police and protests that followed across the country.
While President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in the Confederacy effective January 1, 1863, the resolution notes “the news that slavery had officially ended and that the slaves were free throughout the land now known as the United States was neither announced nor enforced in the western former Confederate states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas in particular, until two and a half years after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation due to a low presence of the Union Army in those areas. “
When Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to establish the Union Army’s command over Texas, he announced to the people of Texas on June 19, 1865, the end of slavery and the freedom of the slaves.
The formerly enslaved people in Texas celebrated their freedom on June 19, 1865, and such celebrations gradually evolved into the official commemorative holiday which has become known as “Juneteenth”, which continues to be celebrated throughout the United States today through festivities, ceremonies, food, and other cultural traditions.”
“Juneteenth serves as an extremely significant day of remembrance and acknowledgment of the history, freedom, culture, strength, perseverance, and achievement of the past, present, and future generations of the African American community,” according to Jackson’s resolution, which goes on to “strongly urge the Parish Administrator to “consider recognizing this holiday consistent with other annual official Parish Holidays.”
The Shreveport chapter of the NAACP issued a statement Wednesday in support of the move to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday.
“Black Americans have experienced oppression and suppression for more than 400 years. To this day, navigating life as a Black American in our city and country does not come with the same privileges experienced by others. Systemic racism creates barriers to safety, health and wealth. And everyday activities often result in racist interactions. Despite the many barriers placed in front of them, Black Americans have showed time and time again, their resiliency, strength, wisdom, and courage,” the statement said.
“We want to formally recognize the significance of June 19 and observe it as a day of both remembrance and action. We the Board Members and Officers of the Shreveport Chapter of the NAACP support legislation to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday. We are committed to making sure this holiday is more than a gesture. It must symbolize our commitment to eliminating anti-Black racism within the Parish of Caddo workforce and community.”