PITTSBURGH — Mayor Bill Peduto will introduce legislation soon that would make Juneteenth an official city of Pittsburgh holiday, his office said in a statement.
Juneteenth is a holiday celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the emancipation of Black enslaved people at the end of the Civil War. Last August, during a Jubilee Memorial Service and Black Voting Rights Forum, Peduto declared that the city would be celebrating Juneteenth in 2021, and his legislation seeks to make it an official holiday.
The proposal would make Juneteenth a paid day off for all city employees, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Good Friday.
“Throughout history, many have tried to silence Black voices,” Peduto said in his statement. “We have arrived in a critical time where they are finally getting the attention that they deserve — and they are being heard. Many of us, particularly privileged white men, have not always listened as much as we should have. The time is now to make that change permanent, and formally set aside this holiday to celebrate Black voices.”
Pennsylvania made Juneteenth a holiday for state employees last year, and many states and cities across the country are giving official designation to the holiday that has long been celebrated by Black people in America.
If passed, city employees will have June 18 off this year, since June 19 falls on a Saturday in 2021. The legislation will be introduced on Feb. 2 and discussed at Pittsburgh’s City Council’s Standing Committees meeting on Feb. 10.
Ryan Deto is a reporter for Pittsburgh City Paper, where this story first appeared.