Juneteenth celebrations kickoff in Chicago, now a paid county holiday

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined the City Council Black Caucus Monday in a ceremony to kickoff a week-long celebration of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth isn’t until Saturday, but events are happening all week leading up to June 19.

For the first time, Juneteenth will be a paid Cook County holiday.

Lightfoot, City Council Black Caucus, the Black Remembrance Project and other elected officials participated in a Juneteenth flag raising ceremony at Daley Plaza Monday.

Virtual celebrations will take place Monday through Wednesday. Events at the end of the week include a health and resource fair at Malcolm X College on the near West Side.

On Saturday, the county will support the “March for Us,” calling for ending systemic racism.

Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865 when the last slaves were freed in Galveston, Texas — two years after the emancipation proclamation. 

Juneteenth has taken on added significance following George Floyd’s death.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford announced Gov. JB Pritzker will sign a bill making Illinois the 47th state to make Juneteenth a state holiday. 

Chicago aldermen tried to make it a city holiday, but Mayor Lightfoot said the city could not afford to do that during a pandemic.

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