The Northern Westchester Examiner

History Made: Yorktown Enacts Juneteenth Commemoration Plans

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The Town of Yorktown, for the first time in its history, will be commemorating Juneteenth.

“I know you didn’t learn about (Juneteenth) in school and neither did I. I learned about it in church,” said Councilwoman Alice Roker, who is black. “And I think very often when it comes to why we’re seeing people out in the streets today, a lot of it has to do with when we go to school. What are we learning? If all people were brought into the conversation, all Americans, regardless of where your ancestors came from, we would not be having these kinds of problems.”

Juneteenth marks the official end to legal slavery in the United States. Roker credited the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police to the increased awareness of Juneteenth.

“This is an important educational moment for many people,” Supervisor Matt Slater stated Tuesday night. “I’m a product of the local school district. I frankly wasn’t aware of this day, of Juneteenth, and its meaning until I was out of school….It has a really profound meaning for a lot of people and I think it’s important for the town and the Town Board to recognize the day and its meaning.”

The Town Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a proclamation declaring June 19 Juneteenth Day. Juneteenth is the end-of-slavery commemoration that marks the 1865 arrival of Union troops in Galveston, Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation that had been issued two and a half years earlier.

The action came the night before Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on Wednesday that made Juneteenth a state holiday this year. He plans to support legislation next year to make the day a permanent holiday.

A copy of the Yorktown resolution is posted on this link to the town’s website.

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