Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced on Thursday that Friday (June 18th) will be a state holiday to commemorate Juneteenth, a day that symbolizes the end of slavery in America in 1865. Ivey issued a proclamation after President Joe Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
The governor’s proclamation says state offices will be closed except in areas where it is essential to maintain personnel. She said employees who work Friday should get a day off as soon as possible.
Juneteenth, which is June 19th, actually falls on Saturday this year. The new holiday is in recognition of June 19th of 1865, when black slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned from Union soldiers of their freedom.
Leah Garner, communications director for the governor, said Ivey hopes to see the Legislature pass a bill to set Juneteenth as a regular state holiday. If that doesn’t happen, the governor could designate the holiday again in future years. Alabama recognizes all federal holidays as state holidays.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth traces its origins back to Galveston, Texas where on June 19, 1865 Union soldiers, led by Major Gen. Gordon Granger landed in the city with news that the Civil War had ended and slaves were now free. The announcement came two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863 that freed slaves in Confederate states. However, since that proclamation was made during the Civil War, it was ignored by Confederate states and it wasn’t until the end of the war that the Executive Order was enforced in the South.
Granger delivered the news himself, reading General Order Number 3:
“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”
The day’s name is a combination of “June” and “nineteenth” in honor of the date of Granger’s announcement and first appeared around 1903. The day was celebrated occasionally until it was revived during the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
What’s open, what’s closed?
All Cherokee County Offices and the Courthouse will be closed on Friday, June 18th in observance of the new Federal holiday, Juneteenth.
County Offices will re-open on Monday, June 21st at 8:00am.
From Gadsden State Community College – due to Governor Kay Ivey designating June 18th (2021) as a holiday for state employees, GSCC employees will not have to report to work on Friday (June 18th).
Federal offices – Closed June 18. President Biden announced the closures of offices on Friday since the holiday falls on a Saturday.
Federal courts – Closed
Alabama offices – Closed, all except essential personnel.
Stock markets – Open this year, may change schedule in the future.
Mail service, U.S. Postal Service – Mail will run both Friday and Saturday and postal offices are open.
From the USPS:
“The U.S. Postal Service is fully supportive of the new Juneteenth National Independence Day Act and making June 19 a federal holiday. Unfortunately, it is not possible to cease the operations of the Postal Service to accommodate an observance over the next 24-48 hours. We are part of the nation’s critical infrastructure and our customers are relying on us to deliver our essential services. Closing down our operations without providing appropriate time would lead to operational disruptions and be a disservice to our customers and those who rely upon us. For that reason, the Postal Service will be operating on June 18 and 19, 2021, on a normal schedule, serving our customers to the best of our ability.
The Postal Service will discuss future recognition of this significant new holiday with our national Unions, Management Associations, and other stakeholders, consistent with our collective bargaining and consultative obligations.”
Banks – Most are open this year