Three days after Juneteenth was celebrated, Yakima County commissioners on Tuesday read a Juneteenth proclamation they had neglected to read in advance of the holiday.
The proclamation retroactively made the week of June 14-20 Juneteenth Freedom Week throughout Yakima County. It was the same proclamation the Board of County Commissioners read last year and in 2019, with only the dates changed. It was submitted by the Yakima County NAACP again this year but was not read at last week’s commission meeting.
“This is in light of the unfortunate, I guess I’d say, miscommunication regarding the Juneteenth proclamation last week,” Commissioner LaDon Linde said prior to reading the proclamation. “I can say for myself that I never saw the proclamation and as a board we never had a chance to discuss the proclamation. We understand that we can’t go back and change the past, but I would like to take the opportunity right now to read that proclamation.”
Its omission last week, combined with the reading of a proclamation conflating racial segregation with restrictions on those unvaccinated against COVID-19, drew rebukes from local NAACP President Reesha Cosby and members of the Yakima City Council. Cosby did not return messages seeking request for comment on this story Wednesday afternoon.
In follow-up interviews all three commissioners — Linde, Amanda McKinney and Ron Anderson — apologized for not reading the Juneteenth proclamation.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. It was about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Southern states. It became a federal holiday this year.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Linde assured viewers he and his fellow commissioners are not racist.
“I think people who know me know that there’s not a racist bone in my body,” he said. “And I will also tell you that in the time that I’ve worked with Commissioner Anderson and Commissioner McKinney, I’ve never heard them say anything that someone could consider racist or insulting in any way.”
Anderson has been on vacation and did not attend the commissioners meeting last week or this week.