Mayor declares Juneteenth a city holiday for Midway, Ky.

Published: Jun. 18, 2020 at 11:57 AM EDT
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MIDWAY, Ky. (WKYT) - As discussions of racial injustice ramp up across the country, more communities are observing Juneteenth this year.

It’s a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in America, but not everyone knows about it.

Now, the city of Midway will recognize Juneteenth as an official city holiday.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told us this was a response to the acts of racial injustice that have made national news.

Even though the emancipation proclamation was in 1863, it would be more than 2 1/2 years later, on June 19, 1865, that federal orders would be read in Galveston, Texas letting slaves there know they were free.

Since then, the holiday has been celebrated by African Americans, but Vandergrift told us like a lot of white people he’s only learned about it in the last few years.

He said it was his wife, Katie, who had the idea to make it an official city holiday. So, tomorrow, city hall will be closed and city employees will have a paid day off. He said he hopes it’s a day to reflect on changes that need to be made.

Grayson Vandegrift Mayor of Midway 2:45 We were certainly inspired by that and inspired by the idea that we are not trying to say we are post-racial. We are not. We’re not trying to say that our problems are fixed, they are not. And by celebrating the end of slavery we are celebrating a day we should be celebrating, but we are also saying there’s so much more work left to do.

Vandegrift said he wants to see other mayors follow suit. He understands it’s probably too late for some of them to make it an official holiday, but he encourages them to begin working on it for next year. Anchor

In Kentucky, the holiday is observed as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day.”

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