SAN ANTONIO — Juneteenth has been celebrated by Black people in the south for years.
“Not all of us know our whole history. Basically, Juneteenth is the day Texas slaves found out they were free, two years after the emancipation was signed June 19th, 1865,” community organizer B. Michelle said.
Even though it’s been celebrated by many for so long, this year will be the first year it’s officially being recognized as a paid city holiday in San Antonio thanks to a town hall meeting last year.
“One young lady actually asked the mayor if Juneteenth could be recognized as a holiday like Fiesta,” Community Activist Neka Cleaver said.
A week later, a proclamation was signed by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg officially recognizing it as a city holiday.
“It’s been a long time coming, and I think as part of a national movement to understand, and to appreciate and in some way rectify the complexity of American history,” Mayor Nirenberg said.
It was the type of change both Michelle and Cleaver felt the city was ready for, following the racial reckoning that happened after the murder of George Floyd.
“Although we did put forth the initial effort to get it pushed through, it has been a community effort behind the events, and behind different council members who said this is what we need,” Cleaver said.