The City of Pittsfield has added a holiday, Juneteenth, to its roster of municipal holidays. As Juneteenth, which is celebrated on June 19, falls on a Saturday this year, city offices will be closed on Friday, June 18.

Juneteenth commemorates the ending of legalized slavery in the United States. It reflects the day, June 19, 1865, when Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and shared the news of freedom with enslaved African-Americans – nearly two and half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

In a communication to city personnel shared on Friday, May 14, Mayor Linda Tyer noted the past and present significance of the holiday.

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“The announcement delivered on June 19, marked a time of liberation, hope, and promise for the future. Juneteenth serves as a poignant reminder for all Americans that the journey to freedom and liberty has looked, and felt, very different for some of us in this country,” the mayor stated. “I’m proud to know that our organization is committed to growing and taking active steps toward ensuring a wide and welcoming pathway for diversity, equity, and inclusion, also known as DEI, in local government.”

The proposed creation of the city’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is one of several recommendations that resulted from the DEI study group formed by Mayor Tyer in 2020.

The responsibilities of this new department will focus on recruitment and retention, leadership and career development, cultivating cultural competency, undertaking strategic planning, monitoring compliance, and leading advocacy. To learn more about the study group recommendations, please visit the Human Resources page on the city’s website, www.cityofpittsfield.org

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