Two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Confederate States, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, to announce that the Union had won the war and that she could enforce the end of slavery.
“This implies an absolute equality of personal rights and property rights between former masters and slaves, and the bond hitherto existing between them becomes that between employer and wage labor,” reads the order. from Granger, Texas.
At the time, not all of the roughly 250,000 enslaved people in Texas were freed immediately, or even soon. According to historian Henry Louis Gates Jr., it was not uncommon for slave owners to refuse to free their slaves—some waited until the harvest was over, and some refused to honor it outright.
Last year, President Joe Biden signed a bill recognizing Granger’s announcement day — called “Juneteenth” — as a federal holiday. While people were only given a few days’ notice before the public holiday last year, many other local governments announced in advance this year that they were closing their offices in respect.
And many groups who celebrated the holiday in Nevada long before Juneteenth had a place on the national calendar say the new federal recognition is helping amplify their message.
Here are a few things to know about vacationing in Nevada.
It is not an official holiday
In Nevada, a 2011 bill sponsored by former Democratic Assemblyman Harvey Munford requires the governor to proclaim June 19 as “Juneteenth Day” each year. But it’s not observed as a statewide holiday that would give state workers a day off.
But that could change. As it stands, Nevada law does not allow Governor Steve Sisolak to make June 19 a holiday on his own. The governor issued a statement along with an official proclamation commemorating the date earlier this month and said he intended to work with state lawmakers in next year’s legislative session to amend state law to observe June 19.
“There is still a lot of work to do in our fight for equality – now is the time to renew our commitment to be a better nation and to speak out against the hatred, racism and bigotry that still prevail,” Sisolak said. in the press release.
Meanwhile, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) is co-sponsoring a resolution with 27 other Democrats and 21 Republicans to commemorate June 19, 2022 as “Juneteenth National Independence Day.” The resolution also recognizes the historical significance of the holiday and supports the continued nationwide celebration and education of the June 19 National Independence Day.
This is an opportunity to look to the future
Although the National Day is a marker of the end of American slavery, organizers of the Juneteenth Jubilee festival in Las Vegas, held on Saturday, said they were focusing more on the future than the past .
The celebration began 21 years ago in Las Vegas’ historic Westside as an outdoor arts festival and was founded by educator Diane Pollard, founder of Rainbow Dreams Academy. Due to growth, the event was moved this year to a 315,000 square foot World Market Center venue in downtown Las Vegas.
“People were concerned about the number of people in such a small space in Doolittle,” said Jay Haywood, organizer of the festival for the past three years. “Some people showed some excitement that it was moved to a bigger space.”
Haywood said last year’s event drew about 2,500 people and was held inside the community center to avoid the Las Vegas heat. The event has been celebrated outside Kianga Isoke Palacio Park on the grounds of the Doolittle Community Center in recent years.
A shuttle was organized to transport people from the Doolittle Community Center to the festival at the World Market Center every half hour. Haywood, along with Las Vegas City Councilman Cedric Crear, said transportation was essential for families who typically walk to the event because it intentionally stood at the heart of the black community for so long. of years.
He said celebrating June 19 makes people aware of the day’s historical significance and its recent national recognition as a public holiday is a nod to the country moving beyond its captive past. .
“Just the fact that more people are aware of what Juneteenth really is and the fact that the nation will take a day to remember and reflect and build on – I think that’s monumental,” Crear said.
For the past 21 years, the local festival has played an important role in telling Las Vegas residents about Juneteenth, Crear said.
“They weren’t teaching Juneteenth in the schools,” he said. “So they were the educators of the whole community.”
The event celebrates African culture with vendors, pop-up shops, food and more. Haywood said the performances were to include percussion, dancers, rhythm and blues bands, and poetry.
In addition to focusing on a message of success and how far African Americans have come since the end of slavery, Haywood said the local festival is a fundraiser that raises funds for students underserved by through the Rainbow Dreams Educational Foundation.
“And we’ve been criticized for that over the years by other June 19 celebrations…but it baffles me because one of the great things about the June 19 celebration is the jubilee part,” said Haywood. “We celebrate how far we’ve come, we recognize how far we have to go.”
In addition to funding $10,000 in college scholarships, the foundation nurtures a relationship with recipients, creating pipelines and support systems throughout their college education.
“The importance of Juneteenth to us is the educational part – making sure we’re educated not just about the holiday itself, but about education and moving forward,” Haywood said.
Banks, postal service, government offices closed
For the first time, the United States Postal Service, the country’s stock exchange and banks – with a few exceptions – will close Monday for June 16. Many Nevada municipalities and some counties will also close their offices on Monday, including Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Reno, Washoe County and Carson City.
“In North Las Vegas, we are proud to be one of Nevada’s largest minority-majority cities, and our City Council has led the way in recognizing the importance of honoring Juneteenth as a holiday in our community and for our team members,” City Manager Ryann Juden said in an email from the city. “It’s a time for our community to reflect on the meaning of the day with family and loved ones.”
Las Vegas City Hall will also close Monday for the holiday, and the Municipal Court, Customer Service Center, Adult/Senior Centers, and Cultural and Community Centers will also close in Las Vegas. In the event of an emergency, Las Vegas Streets & Sanitation and Traffic Engineering crews will remain on standby. Essential services such as Deputy City Marshals and the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Department will still respond.
The majority of Washoe County offices will close, including administrative offices, sheriff’s office, courthouse, health district, social services agency, Truckee Meadows Fire & Rescue headquarters, and libraries (Sunday and Monday). The Office of the Registrar of Electors and the Office of the County Clerk at Washoe County Complex will remain open. More details on the closures are available here.
Reno also joins in by closing its administrative offices on Monday. This includes all leisure facilities and indoor pools, although outdoor pools remain open.
All Carson City town offices will also observe Juneteenth, including the Clerk’s and Recorder’s offices. However, the election office will remain open. Similarly, the clerks of the department of Lyon will not be open, with the exception of the court clerk.
Additionally, in Sparks, the following locations will close on Monday: Sparks City Hall, Parks and Recreation Center, Alf Sorensen Community Center, Larry D. Johnson Community Center, Sparks Municipal Court and others administrative offices.
One notable exception: Clark County government offices will remain open.
Celebrations across the state marked the holiday
The Northern Nevada Black Cultural Awareness Society held its 34th annual Juneteenth Festival at Idlewild Park in Reno on Sunday.
The festival began with a church service in the park. After church, organizers have planned a family day featuring music, food, competitions, a children’s village and vendors from around Reno. To close out the day, R&B musician Stokely of Mint Condition performed at the first concert of NNBCAS Black Music Month.
Carson City has planned a celebration at the Nevada State Museum on Sunday. The event included artwork from the Creative Aging program and educational exhibits from the Nevada State Museum and Our Story, Inc., an organization that helps preserve the history of underrepresented groups in Northern Nevada history. .
Henderson also participated in the observance. A two-day Juneteenth festival was held Saturday at the Whitney Ranch Recreation Center and Sunday at the Water Street Plaza.
Both events held live music and educational booths.