Hennepin County and Minneapolis could both make Juneteenth an official holiday

As Hennepin County moves to make Juneteenth, the day that commemorates when the last U.S. slaves were told they were free back in 1865, an official holiday, Minneapolis city leaders could follow suit as calls grow to make the day a paid holiday.

"This is a holiday of significance to all Americans," said Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins.

In Minneapolis, City Council Vice President Jenkins is leading the charge. "This plays a significant role in our efforts to be a much more equitable city," said Jenkins.

Marking the end of slavery in the U.S., June 19th commemorates Black Americans’ independence.

"What Juneteeth represents is the end of slavery in Texas, because Texas was the last holdout during the Civil War," explained University of St. Thomas professor Dr. Yohuru Williams.

For many African Americans, it's become a day to celebrate and reflect.

"I think that it’s important, in this moment because as we’ve seen in the last year here in the Twin Cities, it’s important for people to understand the history and the struggle for Black equality in the United States," said Dr. Williams.

Juneteenth isn't a federal holiday though it is widely observed, with more and more cities, states, and companies marking celebrations with a paid day off.

"If we think about it as a second Independence Day, it is ultimately an opportunity for all of us, white, Black, and every shade in between, to reflect on the meaning of liberty and what it means to live in a just democracy," said Dr. Williams.

The Hennepin County Board is expected to vote next on the matter Tuesday and Minneapolis City Council is expected to vote on their resolution before the end of the month.