Juneteenth parade

Like much of the country, city of Union employees will see another holiday on their 2022 calendars.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, is intended to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S. It marks the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas learned from Union soldiers that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln two and a half years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863.

A pause took place after City Administrator Jonathan Zimmermann asked Monday if the city’s personnel, finance and public works committee would like to approve the holiday for city workers. After a few moments, Alderman Brian Pickard, who recently became the committee’s chairman, spoke up.

“I think we probably should,” he said. “It’s a federal holiday.”

The committee, made up of members of the Union Board of Aldermen, then voted to approve the holiday beginning with next year’s calendar.

The city did not have time to make a decision whether to give employees Juneteenth off in 2021 because the federal government approved the holiday just prior to the date, Zimmermann said. “The (state) courts closed down for it this year,” he said. “We could not because that decision has to be made by elected officials.”

The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to approve the Juneteenth holiday in June, and the House of Representatives approved the holiday by a 415-14 vote, with no Missouri Congress members voting against it. President Joe Biden signed the resolution approving the holiday June 17.

The only federal holiday Union employees currently don’t have off is Columbus Day, City Clerk Jonita Copeland said.

Other federal holidays are New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In addition, Union city employees get the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve off, as well as a half day off on Good Friday. Zimmermann said he has heard that employees gave up Columbus Day in exchange for getting Black Friday off years ago.

With Juneteenth on a Sunday in 2022, Zimmermann said the city will likely celebrate the holiday on Monday, June 20, similar to what it does when July 4 falls on a weekend.

Although it only became a federal holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been honored in Union with a vehicle parade the past two years. The event, organized by Equality Right Now Syndicate and Neighbors United - Undoing Racism, drew about 25 people in 15 cars in 2021. They rode from East Central College to downtown Union in cars decorated with signs and balloons.