Councilmember Curren Price

LA City Councilmember Curren Price today introduced a motion that would move to establish Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States dating back to June 19, 1865, as a legal City holiday.  

In light of recent protests that demand for racial equity and justice within the country in response to the unarmed killings of Black Americans at the hands of police like those of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black Americans, there has been a heightened call to commemorate, celebrate and acknowledge the historical significance of Juneteenth. 

During the American Civil War – a battle that centered on the legality of slavery – President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, declaring “that all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free.” In the majority of the country, Blacks who were enslaved were alerted of their new found freedom shortly after it was issued. However, this was not the case in Galveston, Texas where the message was not heard until June 19, 1865, two years following the original proclamation, when Major General Gordon Granger arrived within the city announcing that those who were enslaved were now free. 

“For myself and the nearly half a million Black Angelenos that call this City home, we understand its significance, we recognize the value and the cultural impact Juneteenth has on our culture,” Councilman Price said. “This is a moment to honor our ancestors who were subjected to harsh and inhumane treatment as they were forced to perform back breaking labor, deprived of an education, and were subjected to countless acts of violence against them. For many of us today, we are still bound by chains in the form of political, educational, health, social and economic disparities. This is a teaching moment, one to raise awareness and share our values and traditions with the world.” 

While Juneteenth is widely known within the Black community in the American South, nationally it is not recognized. The motion that Price introduced on July 29 instructs the Chief Legislative Analyst, with assistance of the City Administrative Officer and the Civil and Human Rights Commission, to report on the historical importance and cultural impact of Juneteenth, and provide options for establishing Juneteenth as a legal holiday in LA. 


Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D., Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus celebrates the lighting of California State Capital for Juneteenth. (Photo by Antonio Harvey)