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Juneteenth Now a Town Holiday

Wed, 05/11/2022 - 16:01

The East Hampton Town Board voted last Thursday to recognize Juneteenth, or June 19, as a town holiday. 

It was on June 19, 1865, that Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army was dispatched to Galveston, Tex., to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. Subsequently, the last enslaved people in Texas, the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery, were freed. 

New York State recognized Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees as of 2020. President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law last year, which recognizes the day as a federal holiday. 

Holidays are a mandatory subject of collective bargaining, requiring negotiations with each of the town's unions. This year, June 19 falls during a time when each of the town's collective bargaining agreements or memorandums of agreements are in place. Designating Juneteenth a holiday is subject to change by town policy or collective bargaining in the future. 

A Juneteenth commemoration at the Lee A. Hayes Youth Park in Amagansett, which was recently renamed for the Tuskegee Airman, who lived in the town for most of his life, will happen on June 18. It will feature an unveiling of a plaque and history kiosk. Mr. Hayes, who died in 2013 at the age of 91, would have turned 100 years old on June 20.

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