Given short notice, Treasure Valley cities to remain open for new Juneteenth holiday

State agencies and Boise State University among those deciding to close

By: - June 17, 2021 6:35 pm

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris (D-CA) in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

With short notice mere hours after President Joe Biden signed a law making June 19 a national holiday, the mayors of Boise, Nampa and Meridian announced city operations would be open as normal on Friday, while the state’s executive branch agencies will be closed.

June 19 is celebrated as the end of slavery in the United States, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Though many slaves were freed after the proclamation was signed, many slave owners continued to hold slaves until June 19, 1865, when U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger traveled to Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of the Civil War and slavery. More than 250,000 enslaved black people were freed in Texas that day, and it came to be known as Juneteenth.

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on Tuesday, and the U.S. House passed it by a 415-14 vote on Wednesday. Biden signed it into law close to 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, and federal agencies will observe the holiday on Friday, June 17. It is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983.

Gov. Brad Little announces executive agencies will be closed

Little issued a proclamation recognizing June 19 as a new legal public holiday observed by Idaho Code. The holiday will be observed for executive branch agencies on Friday.

“Juneteenth marks the celebration of not just a moment in the past but also a renewed shared commitment to uniting as Americans to ensure equality and opportunity are a reality for all Americans, in the present and the future,” the proclamation states.

Idaho state courts to remain open

According to a press release, Idaho’s state court system will remain open on Friday.

“Because of the short notice, Idaho’s courts have already prepared dockets, people have been scheduled and summoned to courthouses, and there has been insufficient time to prepare for a non-judicial day,” an order from the Idaho Supreme Court states.

Boise State University classes canceled

Boise State University sent an email to employees and students stating all classes will be canceled on Friday to observe the holiday. Given the short notice, the university is allowing vice presidents to communicate with their employees on whether or not they can take Friday as a holiday, depending on whether they are needed to ensure programming and services continuity, according to the email. Employees who work the holiday will be eligible for holiday pay or a future floating holiday.

City of Boise will recognize new holiday in 2022

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean announced the city will not close any facilities because of the short notice. Beginning in 2022, the city will recognize Juneteenth and close city facilities.

“By formally recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, we are able to reflect on our nation’s past and continue the work toward equality and racial justice,” McLean said in the release.

City of Meridian will remain open on Friday

Meridian Mayor Robert Simison issued a release similar to Boise’s announcement, stating city facilities would remain open for business because of the short notice.

“It is important that we recognize Juneteenth and its significance to the African-American community and the lives of all Americans,” Simison said in the release. “We look forward to honoring and incorporating this holiday into the city’s future operations.”

Nampa city facilities open on Friday

Mayor Debbie Kling issued a release saying city operations will remain open this year, and she will propose formally adding the new holiday to the city employee handbook in 2022.

“I encourage everyone to reflect on the significance of our country’s journey to live up to our founding ideals, that all humans are created in the image of God and possess dignity and freedom as a natural, God-given right,” Kling said in the release.

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Kelcie Moseley-Morris
Kelcie Moseley-Morris

Kelcie Moseley-Morris is an award-winning journalist who has covered many topics across Idaho since 2011. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in public administration from Boise State University. Moseley-Morris started her journalism career at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, followed by the Lewiston Tribune and the Idaho Press.

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