Kansas City and Jackson County make Juneteenth a holiday for city and county workers

Tatum Goetting
Editorial Assistant

The Kansas City, Mo., City Council voted in May to add Juneteenth as a paid holiday, to be observed on June 18 this year. This legislation only impacts employees of the City of Kansas City and not other businesses. The city will also encourage its employees to “participate in a day of service to celebrate the day.”

Juneteenth, which occurs on June 19, recognizes the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States, is now a paid holiday for working employees of Kansas City, Missouri.

Justice Horn, a candidate for the Jackson County Missouri Legislature, said he collaborated with Kansas City Councilpeople Melissa Robinson, Ryana Parks-Shaw, Lee Barnes and Brandon Ellington to write the ordinance.

“Without a doubt, it is a long overdue recognition for the Black community here in Kansas City,” Horn said. “[Juneteenth] is very much our Black Liberation Day; it’s our Independence Day from slavery and bondage and from being oppressed.”

About a year ago Horn said he brought this issue to Councilwoman Robinson’s office during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The fiscal note did come up and committee, as well as the five year kind of cost,” Horn said. “Thankfully Councilman Robinson got up in committee and talked about slave labor, and how much our community has given to the overall GDP and what actually built our country. It’s a tiny bill to pay for the longstanding sacrifices made by Black Americans. So, yes, it’s gonna cost a pretty penny but it’s long overdue.”

On a fiscal note, Crissy Dastrup, the Legislative Aide for Councilman Eric Bunch, said this action is expected to cost around $840,000 a year for employee overtime expenses and is expected to increase in the years to come.

The Juneteenth holiday for Kansas City employees will happen the third Friday of every June. This holiday only impacts the employees of the City of Kansas City and not other businesses.

“The city officially [recognizing Juneteenth] as a paid holiday for city employees, and a big portion of our city employees are people of color, is very important,” Horn said. “I think it’s powerful.”

Most city offices will be closed June 18, including the City’s tow lot. Trash and recycling pickup will remain on the regular schedule.

Jackson County also designated Juneteenth as an official paid holiday for County staff members.

“I am very excited and extremely proud to sign this ordinance into law which acknowledges the struggles, perseverance and contributions of Black people in our community and country,” Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr. said in a press release June 7. “Together we are breaking a small, yet significant step forward to ensure true equity and liberation for the Black community.”

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