LEXINGTON, S.C. — As of last week, the Town of Lexington officially recognized Juneteenth as a national holiday. This comes roughly a year after Juneteenth became a federal holiday. The day is remembered for the events of June 19, 1865.
This decision by Lexington leaders is something that was publicly initiated.
"It came to light from several residents in town and then we have several employees that work for the town of Lexington that also brought it up and thought we should consider making Juneteenth an official holiday so that they may celebrate it with their peers," Mayor Steve MacDougall said.
Back in December of 2021, Cayce City Council did the same thing, joining Columbia and Charleston by recognizing this holiday.
Brenton Brown, the chief of staff at the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs, explained what this day signifies.
"It really is a time of celebration and commemoration, not just about June 19, 1865, which it is there to commemorate, but also the long arc of post-Civil War, going into Reconstruction where African Americans are starting to finally be able to realize what it means to be a full citizen of this particular country," Brown said.
Brown added that he hopes this holiday not only allows for a day off but also a day to educate community members about Juneteenth to do service projects, to get plugged in, and to recognize happenings presently and historically.
Going into effect immediately after Monday night's meeting, Juneteenth plans can now be made for next year's activities.
The town's mayor said groups rent out the town's amphitheater for hosting events or festivals that day.
"I got a lot of people calling me, giving me the thumbs up for doing it because it does take a little bit of fortitude in order to step out there and do things like this and lead and that's okay," MacDougall said. "We have a lot of sister cities that already recognize this holiday. It just made sense that we do this, not only as a community in Lexington but as a community of Columbia. We're all in this together."
According to Lexington's mayor, this holiday, Juneteenth, is expected to fall during the week for the next six or so years. There's only about one year they'll have to celebrate the day before Juneteenth.