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Louisville employers recognize Juneteenth as formal holiday

Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 11:58 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 7:00 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Several Louisville employers have moved to give workers a day off in recognition of Juneteenth this year.

June 19 marks the day that the last slaves in America learned they were free, despite President Abraham Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation two years prior.

The Louisville Water Company and UofL announced this week their organizations will be treating Friday as a holiday in recognition of Juneteenth, which falls on Saturday. MSD will also recognize Juneteenth as a holiday for the first time this year.

Tony Parrott, the Executive Director of MSD, said the recognition is part of a larger effort.

“Strategically, we think it’s important to continue to look at how we can improve, not only our workplace but also our community as we deal with racial inequity,” Parrott said.

On its website, LWC stated, “The civil unrest that affected both our local community and our country brought many issues to the forefront.”

The company said it has worked to create an inclusive and equitable environment by opening dialogs with employees, hiring diversity experts and creating a scholarship.

The University of Louisville said beginning this year, and in the future, it will recognize June 19 as an official university holiday. The Black Faculty and Staff Association at UofL lead the effort to encourage the university to recognize the holiday.

“In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, ‘[n]obody’s free until everybody’s free,’” Carcyle Barrett, BFSA President, said. “Now, we can all observe Juneteenth as a true all-encompassing independence where we support efforts toward anti-racism and social justice.”

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Exteriors of the University of Louisville or UofL.
Exteriors of the University of Louisville or UofL.(Source: WAVE 3 News)

Barrett said she wants to ensure the meaning of Juneteenth is not lost as it gains momentum.

“While there’s good surrounding it, there is some painful history associated with it,” Barrett said. “So, we try to keep that at the forefront. So, that, as a country, we do not repeat the mistakes we have done in the past.”

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday this week. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives.

Kentucky government leaders pledged to do the same at the state level during the 2021 legislative session, but no bill was filed to do so.

Louisville Water customer service areas will be closed on Fri., June 18. Customers should utilize LouisvilleWater.com for questions and assistance on Friday, according to the company website.

UofL stated it will observe Juneteenth by canceling classes and closing offices on Friday, June 18.

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