The Morrow City Council voted Tuesday to make Juneteenth a permanent paid city holiday.
Councilwoman Dorothy Dean got choked up when speaking on the recognition.
“Recognizing Juneteenth holiday is very close to my heart…” Dean said. “It’s something that—I get a little emotional—I appreciate.”
The council had approved Juneteenth as a city holiday in 2021, but just for that year.
The city wanted to celebrate the heritage of Morrow’s African American residents by recognizing the holiday, according to the resolution text.
Juneteenth commemorates the day that the practice of slavery in the U.S. was ended: June 19, 1865. On that day, Union soldiers informed enslaved Blacks in Galveston, TX that President Abraham Lincoln had freed them two years earlier in the Emancipation Proclamation.
Christina Pearl Cooper was recognized at the meeting as the winner of the “Miss Juneteenth” essay contest. She and Mr. Juneteenth were crowned at Morrow’s second annual Juneteenth Festival on June 11.
Cooper touched on the thought behind her winning essay in a speech.
Watch her speech here:
“I really took time to think about what I wanted to write down,” Cooper said. “I think it’s a very important subject: what Juneteenth is and what it means to not only the current generations but the new generations that will come.”
Mayor Pro Tem Renee Saunders Knight said the mission of the essay contest was to encourage creativity and elevate youth perspectives on Juneteenth.
“When you see young people doing wonderful and great things, it truly gives you hope to know that there are some young folks out there that are really paying attention,” Saunders Knight said. “We just have to show up for them and applaud them.”