ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – City employees in Elmira will now have June 19 as a paid holiday after the city council voted to approve Juneteenth as a city-wide holiday.
The Elmira City Council voted to approve the measure 6-0 on Monday with Councilman Mark Franchi absent.
The resolution was sponsored by Elmira City Councilman Tory Kitching.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. It was about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Southern states.
President Joe Biden signed a bill last June that was passed by Congress to set aside Juneteenth, or June 19th, as a federal holiday. “I hope this is the beginning of a change in the way we deal with one another,” he said.
The Senate approved the bill unanimously; only 14 House Republicans — many representing states that were part of the slave-holding Confederacy in the 19th century — opposed the measure.
In June 2020 then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order Wednesday recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for state employees.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.