The governing board of North Carolina's largest county by population voted on Monday to make Juneteenth a paid county holiday for its workers.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously for the calendar addition during a video conference meeting, according to a county news release. The additional holiday will begin for county staff in 2021.
Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865. The release said Wake County is the first county in the state to declare Juneteenth a holiday for its employees.
“By making June 19 a holiday, we give our more than 4,000 employees the opportunity to learn more about the end of slavery in our country and show their commitment to making today’s society more equitable and inclusive," Board Chairman Greg Ford said in the release.
The paid holiday should cost the county a little over $544,000 to implement, based on the anticipated payment to hourly employees, the county said.
The holiday is usually celebrated with parades and festivals but became a day of protest this year in the wake of demonstrations set off by George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police.