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40 Chicago aldermen co-sponsor proposal to make Juneteenth a paid city holiday

Crusader Staff Report

Forty of 50 Chicago aldermen on Wednesday, November 20, co-sponsored an ordinance that would make Juneteenth a paid city holiday that will close all local government office buildings.

The proposal was introduced  by newly-elected Alderman Maria Hadden (49th) and Alderman David Moore (17th).

Of the 40 alderman supporting the proposed ordinance, 17 are Black. Alderman Howard Brookins, Jr. (21st) is the only Black alderman who is not among the list of co-sponsors.

Ordinance O2019-9156 calls for honoring June 19, 1865, the day when federal troops set out to enforce President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in former Confederate southern states. Today, Juneteenth honors over 11 million slaves from Africa who were involuntary brought to America, where they were whipped, murdered and treated as inferior, second class citizens under white slave owners. Juneteenth is the oldest celebration recognizing the freedom of Blacks slaves in the country. Many celebrate  Juneteenth with parades, picnics and special events.

Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in in 46 states. Despite efforts, Juneteenth is not recognized as a national holiday.

According to the Chicago proposed ordinance, Juneteenth is celebrated in more than 205 American cities.

The proposal said Chicago is “a city where millions of African-Americans fled in two great migration waves, served as a refuge from terrorism.

“It is not enough for the City of Chicago to have just parades, barbeques, and events celebrating Juneteenth. Chicago must recognize Juneteenth as an official City holiday, which will help support the campaign to recognize “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” as a national holiday,” the proposal states.

The cost of the proposed holiday is unknown, but Chicago has a budget deficit of the more than $800 million. City employees currently receive 12 paid holidays.

In September, Aldermen Moore and King co-sponsored a proposed ordinance that would rename Lake Shore Drive after Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable, a Black Fur Trader who is considered the “Founder of Chicago.” The Chicago Black Caucus is also pushing for a debate on granting reparations to Chicago descendants of slaves.

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