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Westchester County observes Juneteenth, commemorates end of slavery

Many across the country will observe the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.

News 12 Staff

Jun 19, 2020, 9:54 AM

Updated 1,433 days ago

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Many across the country will observe the commemoration Juneteeth – which marks the anniversary of news arriving in Texas that slaves were now free.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees earlier this week. Westchester County officials made the decision to do the same on the county level.
The holiday dates back to June 19, 1865 when Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and announced that enslaved people were free. However, that announcement came more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
The date carries great meaning to many people, and especially this year as conversations of racial and social injustice dominate our country.
"We have seen a lot of people in peacetime protesting they want to see things change, they want to see things happen," says Westchester County Executive George Latimer.  "That would move forward and this county government wants to work on those changes and try to create a better more peaceful, more just society.  We do that also, however, by supporting those police services that serve us."
Westchester County officials say they want communities to set a good example and be part of these conversations.
All county buildings will be closed today.
"We want to make sure that everyone understands that we in Westchester County government want to properly honor and observe the historical significance of this day and that this is a proper way to do it," says Latimer.
There are several Juneteenth celebrations taking place in the Hudson Valley.
Mount Vernon has always had big Junetheeth celebrations, but due to COVID-19, they are not able to hold their usual event. However, there is a Juneteenth event at 10 a.m. on the steps of city hall.
In Rockland County, there is the Haverstraw African American Connection's fifth Juneteenth Celebration at 6 p.m., outside of Haverstraw Village Hall.
Back in Westchester, there is a Juneteenth Celebration and rally at the Church of St. Barnabas in Irvington from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m.
News 12 is told there will also be an effort to enact legislation for next year to officially make Juneteenth a state holiday here in New York.
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