Credit: Bill Moore photo

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka signed an executive order on Juneteenth proclaiming that this year and every year thereafter, Juneteenth will be a day of remembrance and education for all Newark

municipal employees, including teach-ins and workshops.

On Friday, June 19, city employees attended a virtual teach-in focused on the significance of

Juneteenth in American history. The virtual teach-in speakers included Baraka, Sonia

Sanchez, City Historian Junius Williams and Dr. Melissa L. Cooper; it was preceded by discussions with city department directors and their staff.

The citywide learning and education for employees covered the holiday itself, racism, issues of

inequality in America and the fight for justice and equality.

“Juneteenth is one of the most important days in American history and it has never been made

more significant than by the recent racism evidenced across the country,” Baraka said. “In

Newark, we will use this Day On (not off), to learn, observe, honor and respect the day that

defined freedom for millions and ended chattel slavery in the United States.”

Also on Juneteenth, State Assemblywoman Shanique Speight (D-Essex) introduced a measure to designate July 13 as “Black Lives Matter Day” in New Jersey, in recognition of July 13, 2013, the date when three women––Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometti––turned Black Lives Matter into a global movement.

This follows the city council in Jersey City designating May 25 at “Black Lives Matter Day.” The date was chosen to commemorate the day police killing victim George Floyd died in

Minneapolis.

“The momentum we’ve seen around Black Lives Matter in the wake of these tragic, unjust

deaths is promising and exhilarating, but we must make sure this is not just a moment in time,”

Speight said. “Black lives matter, everywhere and every day. It’s time we in New Jersey show we stand in solidarity with this movement by designating a Black Lives Matter day of action each year. This fight doesn’t end when the protests wane or when corrupt police officers are brought to justice. We must always stand up to racism, bigotry and hatred.”