The committee approved the change on a 3-0 vote with East Ward Council Member Annette Scippio abstaining.
Scippio had argued that perhaps the city should use the day as one for staff members to learn about diversity and and racism, rather than simply getting the day off.
“I would love for the city to be a little different than other cities,” Scippio said. “Instead of a day off, it might be a day of reflection and discussion and education — to enrich city employees with history, or learning or fellowship with each other.”
That way, Scippio said, employees would “better understand the impact that slavery has had on our nation.”
Southwest Ward Council Member Dan Besse said the other local dates of importance that were mentioned last month can be talked about when the city has its own Juneteenth, but that in joining with other cities on a common date of celebration, “it is part of the national conversation.”
North Ward Council Member D.D. Adams, who chairs the general government committee, said there will be time in the future to figure out how to observe Juneteenth and what the role of city employees might be in observing it. The important first step, she said, is to simply get the holiday on the books.
“It will evolve and change as time goes on,” Adams said, noting that the same thing had happened with the establishment of a day to commemorate the birth of Martin Luther King Jr.