Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury on Friday designated Juneteenth as an annual paid holiday for all county employees.
Juneteenth, on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when the news of the abolition of slavery reached Texas – therefore, the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved people in the United States, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
“We have a profound responsibility at the county to acknowledge that the structural inequities in our community and country are rooted in the original enslavement of Black people,” Kafoury said in a statement.
“Observing the day of Black liberation honors the historic and current struggle, acknowledges the strength of our Black neighbors, friends and family, and reminds us of the hard and necessary work we must continue to dismantle systems of oppression,” she continued.
Multnomah County follows a recent surge of businesses and agencies around the country that have made the decision to designate Juneteenth as a paid holiday. Nike, headquartered in Beaverton, made the designation earlier this week.
Kafoury said she hopes county staff use the day for “respite and renewal” but also as a chance to learn more about local and national Black history as well as to support Black businesses.