Some local governments, agencies close for new Juneteenth holiday

Some local governments, agencies close for new Juneteenth holiday
Juneteenth Flag

RENO–Some local government agencies are observing Juneteenth—the holiday commemorating the day enslaved Black people in Texas learned of their emancipation on June 19, 1865.

It was on that day that the people of Texas—more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation—were informed of the abolition of slavery.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger publicly read General Order No. 3 to a crowd assembled in Galveston. It stated, in part, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

Juneteenth is a holiday about which many people were unfamiliar until recent years. Though it’s yet to be recognized as a state holiday in Nevada, President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a bill to recognize it as a federal holiday.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak applauded Biden and Congress for establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day—a U.S. federal holiday which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. 

The governor issued a proclamation naming June 19, 2021, as Juneteenth National Freedom Day. On Saturday, he will join the DISCOVERY Children’s Museum in Las Vegas for a flag raising ceremony and poetry reading by Poet Laureate for Clark County Vogue Robinson in honor of it.

“Celebrating Black freedom and achievement on Juneteenth is more important now than ever and is a critical part of American history,” Sisolak said. “I encourage all Nevadans to join me in observing Juneteenth this Saturday to commemorate the day when the message was delivered to the last American slaves that they were now free.”

Nevada state law does not allow the governor to unilaterally have this new federal holiday observed on a weekday when it falls on a weekend date. Therefore, Juneteenth will not be observed as a statewide holiday on Friday. However, the governor’s office said he “does look forward to working with state lawmakers to celebrate and observe Juneteenth as a weekday statewide holiday going forward.”

In northern Nevada, several government offices and agencies announced closures to honor the new holiday. Among those closing administrative offices on Friday are Washoe County and all Washoe County libraries; City of Reno; Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, including the front desk; and Lyon, Churchill County and Nye counties.

City of Sparks officials said their offices will remain open, in part because appointments and programs were already confirmed. 

“Many families rely on the city’s summer daycare programs for their children,” Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson said. “Given the short notice of the announcement, we want to keep our facilities open and honor our obligation to serve the community.”

Lawson did note that the federal recognition of Juneteenth was “an important step in acknowledging the painful parts of our nation’s history so we can learn and grow together as a community.”

Storey County will close its administrative offices on Monday, June 21.

Check with local government offices and agencies directly to confirm hours of operation.