PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland will formally recognize June 19, or Juneteenth, as a paid holiday, Mayor Ted Wheeler said.
The Portland City Council plans to adopt an ordinance Wednesday to establish June 19 as a day of recognition of black American history and give employees a paid day off to engage in remembrance and action, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
“We are suggesting that City of Portland employees spend the holiday getting educated on the white supremacy that was foundational to American culture,” the statement said.
The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when news finally reached African Americans in Texas that President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves living in Confederate states two years earlier.
Texas first made it a state holiday in 1980. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he’s making Juneteenth an official holiday in a state that was once home to the capital of the Confederacy.
The Portland ordinance will include a formal apology for the how black people have been treated in Portland and the U.S., the mayor said.
“When Oregon was founded as a state in 1857, its constitution explicitly banned Black people from visiting, living and owning property here,” his statement said. “To this day, navigating life as a Black American in our city and country does not come with the same privileges experienced by others.”