Chicagoans celebrate first Juneteenth as official federal holiday

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CHICAGO — Saturday marks the first official Juneteenth as a federal holiday and Chicagoans are celebrating and honoring the day, that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, throughout the city.

Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday signed a bill that made Illinois the 47th state to recognize the day. For the first time, June 19 will also be a paid Cook County holiday. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the City Council Black Caucus and the Black Remembrance Project along with other elected officials participated in a Juneteeth flag raising ceremony on Monday at Chicago’s Daley Plaza.

President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a bill that was passed by Congress to set aside Juneteenth as a federal holiday. The Senate approved it unanimously; only 14 House Republicans — many representing states that were part of the slave-holding Confederacy in the 19th century — opposed the measure.

The first town in Illinois to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday is Plano. On Saturday, the town celebrated the day near Emily John Elementary.

For a list of events happening around the city visit choosechicago.org.

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