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Resolution RS2020-398

A resolution to recognize June 19, 2020, as Juneteenth and urge the residents of Nashville and Davidson County to join in celebrating Juneteenth as a day to honor and reflect on the significant role that African Americans have played in the history of the United States and how they have enriched society through their steadfast commitment to promoting unity, equality and economic stability.

WHEREAS, Juneteenth, also known as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” “Emancipation Day,” “Emancipation Celebration,” and “Freedom Day,” is recognized as the end of chattel slavery in the United States and is the oldest African American holiday observance in the United States; and

WHEREAS, Juneteenth commemorates the strong survival instinct of African Americans who were first brought to this country stacked in the bottom of slave ships in a month-long journey across the Atlantic Ocean known as the “Middle Passage”; and

WHEREAS, Events in the history of the United States that led to the start of the Civil War in 1861 centered on sectional differences between the North and the South that were based on the economic and social divergence caused by the existence of slavery; and

WHEREAS, In 1862, the first clear signs that the end of slavery was imminent appeared when laws abolishing slavery were adopted in the territories of Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico; and

WHEREAS, In September 1862, President Lincoln issued the celebrated Emancipation Proclamation, warning the rebellious Confederate states that he would declare their slaves “forever free” if those states did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863; and

WHEREAS, Enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation occurred only in Confederate states that were under Union Army control; and

WHEREAS, On January 31, 1865, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery throughout the United States and its territories; and

WHEREAS, Spontaneous celebration erupted throughout the country when African Americans learned of their freedom; and

WHEREAS, Juneteenth, or June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last slaves in America were freed when General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and issued General Order No. 3, almost two and one-half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation; and

WHEREAS, For former slaves, the Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, praying, and gathering remaining family members together. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date; and

WHEREAS, Observance of Juneteenth, a reminder of emancipation, spread from Texas to the neighboring states of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, as well as Alabama, Florida, and California, where many African American Texans migrated; and

WHEREAS, The state of Texas is widely considered the first state to begin Juneteenth celebrations. Informal observances have taken place there for over a century and it has been an official state holiday in Texas since 1980. Thirty-nine states, including California since 2003, and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or a state holiday observance; and

WHEREAS, Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas, a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, family gatherings and community festivals. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement, and planning for the future; and

WHEREAS, Juneteenth symbolizes freedom, celebrates the abolishment of slavery, and reminds all Americans of the significant contributions of African Americans to our society; and

WHEREAS, A growing number of American and African American cultural institutions have sponsored Juneteenth cultural events designed to make all Americans aware of this celebration; and

WHEREAS, Juneteenth celebrations are a tribute to those African Americans who fought so long and worked so hard to make the dream of equality and justice a reality.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF NASHVILLE AND DAVIDSON COUNTY:

Section 1. That the Metropolitan County Council hereby goes on record as declaring June 19, 2020 as Juneteenth and urging the residents of Nashville, Davidson County to join in celebrating Juneteenth as a day to honor and reflect on the significant role that African Americans have played in the history of the United States and how they have enriched society through their steadfast commitment to promoting unity, justice and equality.

Section 2. That the Metropolitan County Council further goes on record as:
(A) recognizing the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day to this City, this State and our Nation;
(B) supporting the continued celebration of Juneteenth Independence Day to provide an opportunity for the people of the United States to learn more about the past and to better understand the experiences that have shaped the Nation; and
(C) encouraging the people of Nashville and Davidson County to observe Juneteenth Independence Day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs; and

Section 3. That the Metropolitan County Council further declares that:
(A) the celebration of the end of slavery is an important and enriching part of the history and heritage of the United States; and
(B) history should be regarded as a means for understanding the past and solving the challenges of the future.

Section 4. This Resolution shall take effect from and after its adoption, the welfare of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County requiring it.

Sponsor(s)

Joy Styles, Delishia Porterfield, Antoniette Lee, Burkley Allen, Kyonzté Toombs

Legislative History

IntroducedJune 16, 2020

AdoptedJune 16, 2020

ApprovedJune 17, 2020

ByMayor Cooper's signature

Requests for ADA accommodation should be directed to the Metropolitan Clerk at 615-862-6770.

Last Modified: 06/29/2020 4:59 PM