JERSEY CITY and BAYONNE, NJ -  In an effort to celebrate the day when all slaves were declared free at the end of the American Civil War, Mayor Steven Fulop issued an executive order Wednesday declaring Juneteenth as an official city holiday.

City employees will be paid for the day even though city offices are closed.

This holiday will be an annual event in Jersey City and could become a national holiday if federal authorities push through legislation currently pending.

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Fulop said the day is an important remembrance of the nation’s history in regard to slavery.

Although then President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, his action only affected the Confederate States and did not actually free slaves that were not then at war with the Union. On June 19, 1865, the United States officially declared all slaves free. 

Council President Joyce Watterman called Juneteenth “the Four of July” for Black Americans.

In Bayonne city officials also acknowledged the day raising the Pan African flag in Front of City Hall.

“This is a very important day in the history of America,” said Bayonne Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski.

Rep. Albio Sires, who represents a portion of Jersey City and Bayonne marked the day as a significant one for history saying that “today, we commemorate the official end of slavery in the United States, and the freeing of the last enslaved Americans 115 years ago. We must recognize that far too many in this country still face discrimination and systematic hardship in their daily lives.”

“On the 115th anniversary of Juneteenth, it is incumbent upon us to renew our quest of ensuring an equal and just society for all and commit ourselves to working towards an America where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed,” Sires said.

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