The Guthrie city council voted to designate Juneteenth as an official City holiday. It will now be up to City employees to determine if it will be a paid or holiday.
The council heard the discussion on Nov. 16 with six members. Mayor Steve Gentling was the lone member absent.
Juneteenth was recognized as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021 when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of African-American slaves. It is also often observed for celebrating African-American culture.
City officials stated that some Oklahoma municipalities have added Juneteenth as a designated holiday on their calendar.
The City of Guthrie currently has thirteen designated paid holidays for employees.
“The tradition for the City is that we recognize all the federal holidays,” City Manager Leroy Alsup said to begin the discussion.
The council all agreed Juneteenth should be on the City’s holiday schedule to move the total to 14 holidays. However, the center of the discussion revolved on the paid holiday schedule.
Councilman James Long stated both federal and state government currently have 11 paid holidays and the City has 13.
The two additional days include the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.
Long made the motion to approve by stating, “Keep 13 paid holidays and allow the Human Resources director to poll the employees to determine which 13 (holidays) they want to keep.”
Without hesitation, Councilman Don Channel second the motion.
Alsup stated before the council meeting, a poll was taken among department heads indicating they would vote to eliminate Good Friday as a paid holiday.
Councilman Tracy Williams opposed the idea of removing Good Friday from the paid holiday list.
“The reason why we are considering Juneteenth is because it is a very important historical day in our nation’s history, and I believe it should be recognized. As a Christian, I believe (Good Friday) is the most significant holiday of them all. I would, personally, not support that.”
Williams stated he would remove Presidents Day from the list, but will support what the employees decide.
The council voted 6-0 to approve adding Juneteenth to the holiday schedule and for City employees to determine the 13 paid holidays.
The City will observe Juneteenth on Monday, June 20, 2022.
City of Guthrie 2022 Holiday Schedule:
New Year’s Day (Friday, Dec. 31)
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 17)
President’s Day (Monday, February 21)
Good Friday (Friday, April 15)
Memorial Day (Monday, May 30)
Juneteenth Day (Monday, June 20)
Independence Day (Monday, July 4)
Labor Day (Monday, September 5)
Columbus Day (Monday, October 10)
Veteran’s Day (Friday, November 11)
Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 24)
Day After Thanksgiving Day (Friday, November 25)
Christmas Eve (Friday, December 23)
Christmas Day (Monday, December 26)