(Passaic County, New Jersey) – On the June 16th Freeholder Board meeting, the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously voted to officially declare June 19th  (Juneteenth) as an official annual celebration of African American freedom and the abolition of slavery in the United States.

“Juneteenth”, a combination of the month of June and the date of the 19th, was first recognized in New Jersey in 2003, with the passing of Assembly Bill No. 181, which recognized June 19th as an annual holiday in the State of New Jersey. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in Texas, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas announcing the end of the Civil War and the freedom of the enslaved, creating a day of celebration of freedom.

“One thing that we take pride in here in Passaic County is how diverse we are. We are one of the most diverse counties in the State of New Jersey. Our diversity is our strength. The freeholder board recognizes and celebrates the contributions of our African American Passaic County residents. The African American community in Passaic County has played an integral role in building up our county and contributing to its rich history and bright future,” stated Freeholder Director Sandi Lazzara.

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The fight to end slavery was a century long movement. Passaic County has a history of playing an integral role in the Abolitionist Movement, specifically in the City of Paterson, where the Van Rensalier Huntoon House served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to free enslaved peoples.

“In light of what is happening in our community and in our country nationwide, it is important that we have an awakening of our history. The recognition of Juneteenth is an important step toward the right direction, and we as the freeholder board recognize that there is a lot of work ahead of us to dismantle the injustices and systematic racism that still exists in our society today. As elected officials, we have a responsibility to use our authority to see justice through, through meaningful policies, procedures, and ordinances, in order to create a system that is more balanced for all Americans, and in particular, people who have suffered the most in that system, which includes our African American community. We stand in support of our African American community, and we will continue to do everything in our power to create a more equal society. I am encouraged by what I’m seeing in our county, and I am encouraged by what I am seeing from my colleagues. I think we have one of the greatest freeholder boards, and I am so excited to be part of this team to continue to improve our county,” stated Freeholder T.J. Best.