With a unanimous vote of 14-0 on April 19, the Tompkins County Legislature voted to adopt Juneteenth as a paid employee holiday. Juneteenth is an annual celebration of Black liberation from slavery in America at the end of the Civil War and falls on Sunday June 19, 2022 but will be observed by the County as a holiday for employees on Monday June 20, 2022.
The resolution to adopt the holiday was principally drafted by Legislator Henry Granison (D-Ithaca) who chairs the Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Committee (WDIC). Granison stated, “This is a landmark resolution for Tompkins County and represents us putting our values into action. Lifting Juneteenth up among our other sacred days, telling the story of Black suffering and emancipation, and giving our staff a day of rest and reflection are all commitments to respect and equity as an organization.” Granison continued, “Juneteenth tells the story of delayed emancipation, in order to achieve justice, we must reckon with our past and chart a more equitable path forward.”
Tompkins County Administrator Lisa Holmes stated, “I’m proud that Tompkins County will be an organization that celebrates Juneteenth as an official holiday. Juneteenth will stand alongside many other holidays we’re familiar with, and the County will continue to tell the story of Juneteenth to our staff and community. The efforts by WDIC, our county staff, and community members committed to this work are remarkable, and I thank them for their leadership.”
This year’s Juneteenth celebration will include a program hosted by the Tompkins County Office of Human Rights in partnership with the City of Ithaca featuring author Annette Gordon-Reed and her book On Juneteenth. The event will be viewable on the County’s YouTube channel. In 2021, Tompkins County celebrated Juneteenth with a series of events, including a virtual event titled “Juneteenth and Black Lives Matter: An Africana Studies Perspective” that is viewable on the Tompkins County YouTube channel.
Many Tompkins County offices will be closed to the public on Monday, June 20 in observance of Juneteenth, a list of those offices will be published in the leadup to the holiday.