San Diego County becomes only local government to observe Juneteenth
The Juneteenth flag flew over the San Diego County Administration Center Friday, as all county facilities and offices prepared to close Monday in celebration of the holiday marking the end of slavery.
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, marks the emancipation of enslaved Black people in Texas, the westernmost state in the Confederacy. The Emancipation Proclamation liberated enslaved people in Confederate states in 1863, but that edict wasn’t enforced in Texas until two and a half years later. Since then, Black Americans have honored Juneteenth as a celebration of Black culture and community.
Last June, President Joe Biden signed a law declaring Juneteenth a national holiday and this year San Diego County led the region in celebrating the event with a ceremony and day of observance.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher said the holiday is both a celebration of Black accomplishments and a promise to redress continued injustice. He pointed to disparate health outcomes, life expectancy and economic status between Black and White Americans as evidence of lingering racial divides.
“We celebrate this as an acknowledgement of the original sin of the founding of our country, but reflect on the work that needs to be done,” Fletcher said.
He said the county has taken steps to combat racial injustice through programs to resolve homelessness, reform criminal justice procedures and revamp systems for treating mental illness, all considering the disproportionate impact of those problems on Black communities. The Juneteenth celebration isn’t a solution in itself, but a recognition of the effort needed to achieve racial justice, he said.
“The simple act of raising a flag does not improve someone’s life, but it matters,” he said.