A City Council committee Monday night directed staff to draft an ordinance that would give Evanston city employees a paid holiday to celebrate Juneteenth starting next year.
It’s the first new federal holiday created since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983 and brings the total of federal holidays to a dozen.
The new holiday marks the date in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned from federal troops that they had been freed by the emancipation proclamation issued by President Lincoln in 1863.
Federal government offices and federally regulated banks are closed on federal holidays.
In Illinois, the state legislature voted to only give state workers a paid holiday if June 19th falls on a weekday — and not shift the holiday observance to Friday or Monday when the 19th falls on a Saturday or Sunday.
However, Evanston council members on the Administration and Public Works Committee said they wanted to provide a paid day off on Monday whenever the 19th falls on a weekend.
The federal government gives its workers Friday off when a federal holiday falls on a Saturday and Monday off when it falls on a Sunday.
About a dozen states now recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday for state workers. Most others commemorate it without offering a paid day off.