Mayor Dobies Makes Juneteenth Official City Holiday In Last City Council Action As Mayor

Community members painted a Black Lives Matter mural on W. Washington Ave. on Juneteenth in 2020 with help from the City of Jackson. (Photo courtesy of the City of Jackson)

Jackson, MI — The City of Jackson passed a policy change at its November 23, 2021 City Council meeting declaring Juneteenth an official, paid city holiday in the City of Jackson. The action came as the final agenda item, at the final meeting, for outgoing Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies.

“Making Juneteenth a city holiday shows the importance we place on the meaning of this day to so many in our community, and our desire to engage our community in conversations on racial equity,” said Mayor Derek Dobies. “Our city will celebrate Juneteenth every year, but also each and every day by ensuring we confront the racial challenges we face head on.”

Mayor Dobies said the policy is consistent with other work the city has undertaken to acknowledge the role it can play in advancing social and racial justice in the community. In recent years Dobies has led the creation of a Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the hiring of a Chief Equity Officer, and the development of a Racial Equity Commission — a first of its kind in Michigan. During Juneteenth celebrations in 2020, Dobies joined community leaders in painting a “Black Lives Matter” mural on Washington Avenue.

Last year, Mayor Dobies signed a proclamation declaring June 19, 2020 as Juneteenth Celebration Day, and called on the city administration to make Juneteenth an official city holiday in the City of Jackson.

“We celebrate Juneteenth every year, but this year — given our conversations around racism and Black lives — it matters even more,” City Councilman Freddie Dancy stated last year, in calling on the city to create the holiday. “The story of Juneteenth is twofold: we celebrate the emancipation of our people, but in it we are reminded of the fact that — for so many — justice continues to be delayed.”

In June of this year, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act making Juneteenth a new federal holiday.

The passage of the new policy fulfills that drive and makes Jackson among the first few cities in the state of Michigan to declare Juneteenth an official, paid city holiday for regular, full-time City employees. Dobies said he hopes the action will inspire other cities and businesses to celebrate Juneteenth in their own ways.

The vote to declare Juneteenth an official city holiday passed 6–1, with City Councilwoman Laura Schlecte in opposition.

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Proud father. Devoted husband. Mayor of the City of Jackson, MI.

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Derek Dobies

Derek Dobies

Proud father. Devoted husband. Mayor of the City of Jackson, MI.

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