In June 2021, President Biden demonstrated leadership and a commitment to unifying the country with the stroke of a pen marking Juneteenth a national holiday. This moment commemorated a movement towards educating Americans about the hope and possibilities as recorded in the preamble, we the people in order to form a more perfect union. This federal holiday, the first since 1983, highlights the resilience of Americans.
“On Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to the work of equity, equality, and justice. We celebrate the centuries of struggle, courage, and hope that have brought us to this time of progress and possibility,” said GCRTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer India Birdsong.
GCRTA joins with others in our community, and in this country, to commemorate this holiday.
"It is a joy to salute our city in its recognition of Juneteenth Day. While it is significant to remember that the news of freedom was slow to arrive to some of the southern states, we must do all we can to ensure that similar celebration of equity and inclusion has reached the ears of all Americans today," said GCRTA Board President, Rev. Charles P. Lucas, Pastor Emeritus, St. James AME Church.
GCRTA did not observe the holiday in 2021 due to the timing of the holiday being voted in by Congress, and the need to negotiate the holiday with our labor unions (Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 268 and Fraternal Order of Police). We have successfully negotiated with both unions and have included Juneteenth in our list of 2022 observed holidays.
“Juneteenth is a day of sadness, celebration and hope not only for the nearly 69% of GCRTA employees of color, but for all employees, all our families and our community. Juneteenth reminds us that there has been great progress, though it has never been easy, and the path is seldom straight and direct. It inspires us too that we will continue to make progress toward eliminating injustices together, with all welcome to our family. “I am pleased that the GCRTA will now recognize Juneteenth and welcome it to our celebration of all who stand together for justice,” said Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 268 President, William Nix.
Juneteenth commemorates the date when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned of their freedom, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. The news finally reached the port city of Galveston when Union soldiers arrived on June 19, 1865. The news was met with celebration and began the annual holiday, Juneteenth.
“The FOP/OLC is pleased that the GCRTA has recognized Emancipation Day, Juneteenth and has extended this day of observance to the members of the FOP/OLCi,” said Otto J. Holm Jr., Senior Staff Representative FOP/OLCi.
There will be several Juneteenth celebrations happening throughout our communities on June 19, 2022. We encourage our employees and community partners to participate and learn more about this important holiday.