The move comes after Gov. Ralph Northam declared Juneteenth a state holiday earlier this week.
Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when Texas, the last of the former Confederate states, finally heard the Civil War ended and that the Emancipation Proclamation had made slaves free nearly two years earlier. It is formally considered the official commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.
Although the state has marked Juneteenth via proclamation, the date has not been previously declared a state holiday.
“Fairfax County is moving forward and our holidays must reflect that. I am committed to our values that include a diverse, inclusive and equitable society,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay. “I asked that the County Executive commemorate Juneteenth because that commitment requires listening to diverse voices and acknowledging the shared history of all Americans.”
All government offices will be closed. But employees who staff essential around-the-clock county operations will work as scheduled, including public safety and trash collection.
Here’s more from Northam’s statement:
“Since 1619, when representative democracy and enslaved African people arrived in Virginia within a month of each other, we have said one thing, but done another. It’s time we elevate Juneteenth not just as a celebration by and for some Virginians, but one acknowledged and commemorated by all of us. It mattered then because it marked the end of slavery in this country, and it matters now because it says to Black communities, this is not just your history–this is everyone’s shared history, and we will celebrate it together. This is a step toward the Commonwealth we want to be as we go forward.”
Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill also encouraged residents to reflect on this day and take actions to “promote the unity we embrace here in Fairfax County.”
City of Falls Church Government to Observe Juneteenth Holiday on Friday, June 19, in keeping with the @GovernorVA declaration designating Juneteenth as a state holiday. City government offices will be closed.
— City of Falls Church (@FallsChurchGov) June 18, 2020