Milwaukee County declares Juneteenth Day an official holiday

June 18, 2020

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson announced on Monday, June 15, 2020, Executive Order #20-15, which makes Juneteenth Day an official holiday in Milwaukee County.

“Beginning this year, Milwaukee County will officially recognize this important day in American history,” said Crowley, the first African American elected to the office, in a statement.

“Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the rich history and culture of the African American community. It is also a day to appreciate the long struggle for civil rights that Black people in America have faced for centuries. I am hopeful that our employees will be able to take June 19 as a day ‘on’ not a day off in order to fully support Black lives, liberation and the vision of Milwaukee County to achieve racial equity and become the healthiest county in Wisconsin.”

The holiday was declared via an Administration Order, Monday’s statement said, “to ensure employees can utilize the floating holiday in 2020.”

To ensure that the holiday will become a permanent floating holiday, a resolution will be introduced to the Board of Supervisors this summer.

“As America begins, again, to open our hearts and minds to fully accept and seek to redress centuries of oppression and systemic racism, Milwaukee County is taking a step forward to formally acknowledge and celebrate Black Independence Day and all that it symbolizes,” Nicholson said in the statement.

“One day, perhaps all Americans will sing the Black National Anthem together at the start of sporting events and other gatherings, and celebrate freedom and equity for ALL Americans, the true promise of these United States.”

Milwaukee’s Juneteenth Day celebration, which began in 1971, is one of the longest-running in the U.S. This year’s event, however, has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.