Commissioners Discuss Making Juneteenth an Official Broward County Holiday

BROWARD COUNTY, FL - Commissioners are considering designating June 19th, also known as Juneteenth, an official paid holiday for Broward County. Juneteenth commemorates the official end of slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865. President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had officially outlawed slavery in 1863, but it took more than two years for slavery to come to an end throughout the United States. 

dalevaho“I think this is a gesture that would go far to help in healing those deep wounds that still exist in our society. We’ve celebrated Juneteenth on a small scale here in Broward County. Many other communities across the nation are now officially celebrating the end of enslaved African people on Juneteenth,” said Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness, who brought the request to the Commission.

Recently, the State of New York, Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts declared June 19th an official state holiday. New York City, Portland, Miami-Dade County, Tamarac, and Pembroke Pines have also approved June 19th as an official paid holiday. The only three states yet to legally recognize Juneteenth as either a state or ceremonial holiday are Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Many national companies also promise to recognize Juneteenth as a paid company holiday including Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Uber, Lyft, the NFL, Nike, Postmates, Spotify, Twitter, and Square. 

“From at least 1619 until 1861, enslaved Africans labored and toiled to build this Country, with whips on their backs and chains on their necks and their legs. Plus, the lives that were lost. How many trillions of dollars did that contribute to the building of this Country? You can't calculate that. This is already in our budget. We’re talking about $130,000 more for overtime out of a $5.3 billion budget,” noted Commissioner Holness.

The Broward Office of Management and Budget estimated the total cost of salaries for County employees for one day’s paid holiday is $1.3 million, which is currently budgeted. Premium overtime pay for essential services at the airport, port, water and wastewater and transit that must remain operational every day is $130,000 based on a past holiday and is not currently budgeted. 

Commissioners directed the County Attorney to draft a resolution for further discussion and a vote at a future date.