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Local government agencies to close their offices in honor of Juneteenth

By Jeri Chadwell

Local government agencies are observing Juneteenth—the holiday commemorating the day enslaved Black people in Texas learned of their emancipation on June 19, 1865.

It was on that day that the people of Texas—more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation—were informed of the abolition of slavery.

Emancipation Day Celebration band, June 19, 1900, in Texas. Image: Mrs. Charles Stephenson (Grace Murray) – The Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas Libraries

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger publicly read General Order No. 3 to a crowd assembled in Galveston. It stated, in part, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

Juneteenth is a holiday about which many people were unfamiliar until recent years. Though it’s yet to be recognized as a state holiday in Nevada, President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a bill to recognize it as a federal holiday.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak applauded Biden and Congress for establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day—a U.S. federal holiday which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. 

The governor issued a proclamation naming June 19, 2021, as Juneteenth National Freedom Day. On Saturday, he will join the DISCOVERY Children’s Museum in Las Vegas for a flag raising ceremony and poetry reading by Poet Laureate for Clark County Vogue Robinson in honor of it.

“Celebrating Black freedom and achievement on Juneteenth is more important now than ever and is a critical part of American history,” Sisolak said. “I encourage all Nevadans to join me in observing Juneteenth this Saturday to commemorate the day when the message was delivered to the last American slaves that they were now free.”

Nevada state law does not allow the governor to unilaterally have this new federal holiday observed on a weekday when it falls on a weekend date. Therefore, Juneteenth will not be observed as a statewide holiday on Friday. However, the governor’s office said he “does look forward to working with state lawmakers to celebrate and observe Juneteenth as a weekday statewide holiday going forward.”

The Washoe County administrative offices and all Washoe County libraries will be closed Friday in observance of Juneteenth.

City of Reno administrative offices will also be closed. 

Parks and Recreation operations will remain open as scheduled, including the City of Reno Vacation Station Camps for Kids program. Visit Reno.gov/ParksandRec for schedules and more information.

City of Sparks officials said their offices and parks and recreation operations will remain open, in part because appointments and programs were already confirmed. 

“Many families rely on the city’s summer daycare programs for their children,” Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson said. “Given the short notice of the announcement, we want to keep our facilities open and honor our obligation to serve the community.”

Lawson did note that the federal recognition of Juneteenth was “an important step in acknowledging the painful parts of our nation’s history so we can learn and grow together as a community.”

In observance of the holiday, Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam announced that both the WCSO’s administrative division and front desk will be closed on Friday.

“Tomorrow is an historic day—marking the first time in American History our nation is formally recognizing the end to slavery,” Balaam said in a statement. “Nevada is entrenched in the history behind this day, as the making of our state allowed for President Abraham Lincoln to deliver the Emancipation Proclamation in June of 1865. I am proud that the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office will formally recognize Juneteenth tomorrow.”

This closure will affect the recently instituted First-Come, First-Served Fridays for Carry Concealed Weapons (CCW) permits. There will not be first-come, first-served appointments on Friday.

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