PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury has declared Juneteenth a paid holiday for county employees, her office announced on Friday.
Juneteenth celebrates the day that news of the abolition of slavery reached Texas, the westernmost slave state, on June 19, 1865. That was two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
“Although Juneteenth has been regularly celebrated by Multnomah County employees and community members as a day of commemoration, education and achievement, the Chair’s designation places the day of observance alongside Independence Day, Memorial Day and Presidents’ Day in significance and impact.”
“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 Kafoury in a written statement. “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.’’
Kafoury urged staff to not only celebrate the day, but to also take it as an opportunity to learn about Black history.