Cobb County leaders vote to recognize Juneteenth as official county holiday

Gené Hunter

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(ATLANTA, Ga.) In a recent 4-1 vote, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners approved a proposal to make and recognize Juneteenth as a county holiday.

Juneteenth is celebrated yearly to recognize the Emancipation Proclamation that formally ended slavery in the United States. Until now, the day was casually celebrated and honored with a day off work by certain establishments.

In the commissioner’s meeting packet, the holiday recognition was proposed as follows:

Many Federal, local and state agencies are closed each year on Juneteenth to provide their employees with the opportunity to attend events honoring this important date in the history of our Country. It is proposed to amend the Holiday Policy to establish Juneteenth as an annual holiday for eligible County employees.

The proposal set the first date of the holiday at June 20, 2022.

There was one opposing vote on the holiday's proposal. District 1 Commissioner Keli Gambrill cast the sole vote against the proposal, asking, “How do we determine what is a holiday? You know, do we let a special interest group determine what our holiday should be?”

When asked about her question, Gambrill said she asked that question during the Board of Commissioners' work session the previous day and was told that holidays were determined by the BOC.

“Yes, it is a vote of the board,” Gambrill said. “But there’s also a cost to the taxpayers.”

The other Republican Commissioner, JoAnn Birrell, said, “I don’t think there’s anyone in this room that would that condone slavery, and this is a celebration (of) the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery. So I support this."

This vote and decision was inspired by President Joe Biden’s decision to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday in June earlier this year.

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