By Selene Raj
Although it’s not an official State or Federal Holiday, Juneteenth may become a holiday in the City of Tamarac.
Held every June 19th, the date commemorates freedom from slavery. Its beginnings came in 1865, when a group of enslaved people living in Galveston, Texas, finally learned that they had been freed — two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
At their June 24th meeting, Commissioner Mike Gelin requested the city move forward in making Juneteenth an official holiday in Tamarac.
“We’re talking about the independence of African Americans, which has been ignored since this country’s birth,” said Gelin, noting this was a day that should be recognized and celebrated.
Overall, he was met with support.
However, he did receive some pushback from Vice Mayor Marlon Bolton, who questioned the fiscal impact of making Juneteenth a holiday. Bolton requested more research to know exactly how the celebration would be conducted before moving forward.
“I like the idea of recognizing Juneteenth, I also like the measured approach that the Vice Mayor has suggested,” said Commissioner Julie Fishman.
City Manager Michael Cernech clarified there was no inherent fiscal cost with making Juneteenth a holiday, and Mayor Gomez suggested that the two factors be looked at individually.
“I hear two separate things — establish a holiday and a celebration, and I don’t know if we need to have them together as one,” said Mayor Michelle Gomez.
The city staff clarified they could move forward with requesting an ordinance drafted to make Juneteenth a holiday, without specifying the celebration details.
“There should not be a hold up in the process as far as I’m concerned because those issues can still be addressed in first and second readings,” said Gelin.
Gelin motioned to request city officials draft an ordinance establishing Juneteenth as an official, paid holiday — and it was met by unanimous support, with the commission voting 5-0 in favor.
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- Selene Raj is a writer and a Florida International University graduate. She's completed her Master's in Mass Communications in 2020, and has been living in Coral Springs since 2004. She is passionate about the communities she lives and works in and loves reporting and sharing stories that are as complex and meaningful as the people who live in them.
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