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Toledo City Council to vote on replacing two paid holidays with Juneteenth, Indigenous Peoples Day for city workers

Council will vote Tuesday on whether to replace Good Friday with Juneteenth as a paid holiday for city workers and replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a pair of proposals to change city-observed holidays. The first measure would make Juneteenth a paid holiday for city employees, replacing Good Friday as a day off. The second measure would change the city's Columbus Day observance to Indigenous Peoples Day.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. It was about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Southern states.

The Biden administration made Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2021. But here in Toledo, city council members, including Cerssandra Mcpherson, want to make the holiday the official 16th paid holiday for city employees, replacing Good Friday.

"This holiday being added to the calendar speaks volumes for the city of Toledo in addressing Juneteenth and the African American community and what it represents," McPherson said.

University of Toledo sociology processor Monita Mongo said the holiday is a deeply important historic observance.

"That notice didn't get to Texas until June 19 of 1865, and so Juneteenth literally celebrates the freeing of the last group of slaves," Mongo said.

While McPherson said she's not certain if the resolution will pass on Tuesday, she's feeling confident and she believes it's an important move.

"In saying to the African-American community 'we see you, we support you,' that speaks volumes," McPherson said.

However, Mongo would like the city to go further. She wants elected leaders to pursue policies that make material improvements for communities, not just symbolic gestures.

"To receive a paid day off to celebrate a big event in the Black community, (you) can never go wrong with that," she said. "Would it be better if it came with something else that is actually tangible that could help generations of Black Toledoans? That would be better."

Council also consider changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day during Tuesday's meeting. A number of other cities already have approved this name change, including Ohio's capital city, which is named after the explorer.

RELATED: Honoring Indigenous Peoples' Day in Ohio: Tribal leaders hope for statewide holiday

Mongo endorsed the name change, which reflects a contemporary understanding Columbus' role in American history.

"They pillaged and raped the land and the people. And stole and took over, right?" Mongo said. "We know better and we should do better, and so that is something that needed to be changed a long time ago and the fact that it's being changed is important."

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