MULTNOMAH COUNTY, Ore. — Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury made Juneteenth an annual paid holiday for all county employees on Friday.
Juneteenth is the word used for June 19. In 1865, two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, on June 19 the previously enslaved people of Texas were liberated. Texas was the westernmost slave state in the country at the time.
“We have a profound responsibility at the County to acknowledge that the structural inequities in our community and country are rooted in the original enslavement of Black people,’’ said Chair Kafoury. “Observing the day of Black liberation honors the historic and current struggle, acknowledges the strength of our Black neighbors, friends and family, and reminds us of the hard and necessary work we must continue to dismantle systems of oppression.’’
An email announcing the holiday was sent to county employees by Kafoury on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners.
“I know that declaring a holiday is just one small step in acknowledging the unique and difficult experience of Black employees,’’ Chair Kafoury said. “But I hope this day can used for respite and renewal.’’
Resources to learn more about black history locally and across the country was also included in a press release announcing the holiday:
Black Resources Collection, Multnomah County Library (link is external) (books, film, periodicals and music)
Black Pacific Northwest Collection, Multnomah County Library (link is external) (fiction, nonfiction, youth and poetry)