Today, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing June 19 as a federal holiday. The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, June 15, adopted a proclamation urging recognition of this holiday. As such, the majority of county offices will be closed on Friday, June 18 in observance of Juneteenth National Independence Day.
Essential functions including law enforcement and supervision of 24-hour facilities like the jail, juvenile hall and Sempervirens Psychiatric Health Facility will all remain in operation during this time. The Humboldt County Department of Public Health testing site will remain open.
June 19 holds special meaning for the African American community known as Junteenth. It represents the abolishment of slavery and the emancipation signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The Board of Supervisors on June 15 adopted a proclamation declaring June 19 as Juneteenth Day in Humboldt County to bring awareness and to celebrate this historical day of freedom.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, celebrating that day in history, June 19, 1865. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, declaring the slaves in Confederate territory free, paving the way for the passing of the 13th Amendment, which formally abolished slavery in the United States of America. Word about the signing of the Emancipation proclamation was delayed some two-and-one-half years, to June 19, 1865, in reaching authorities and Black/African American individuals in the South and Southwestern United States.
Emancipation Day observations are held on different days in different states in the South and Southwest, and in order parts of the nation. This day is called “Juneteenth” combining the words “June” and “Nineteenth,” and has been celebrated for over 150 years. Black history is a part of the United States history and is important to celebrate as we create safe spaces, representation, inclusion and empowerment for the Black community in Humboldt County. This holiday is especially important in Humboldt County, as this community makes up a very small percentage of the population that have and continue to experience various forms of discrimination.
Black Humboldt and the Eureka Chapter of the NAACP will be hosting a virtual celebration on June 19, starting at 11:30 am, as well as an in-person option on the Arcata Plaza between 2-7 pm. This year’s celebration will feature Black artist performances, vending from Black-owned businesses, keynote speakers, workshops and music and all members of the community are encouraged to support and attend the event.
The County of Humboldt and Board of Supervisors urges the recognition of this federal holiday and the significance of this celebration in American history and lineage of those who helped build this country.