Some county members resist Juneteenth holiday for employees

The Shiawassee County Courthouse is seen at sunset in this undated photo.Argus-Press File Photo

CORUNNA — The Michigan Supreme Court recently ruled that Juneteenth will be recognized as an official court holiday, meaning courts across Michigan, including Shiawassee County, will now be closed on that date.

Shiawassee County Chief Judge Ward Clarkson issued an order June 6 for the Shiawassee circuit, district and probate courts to add Juneteenth as an official court holiday, in accordance with the state supreme court’s order. The various court staffs will now have an extra paid holiday.

“Juneteenth is an event of profound importance in the history of our nation, and mandatory observance of this holiday by courts statewide sends a message that Michigan’s judiciary values the life experiences of all who seek justice,” said Tom Boyd, state court administrator. “We appreciate the speedy work of judges and court administrators to implement the holiday and to inform all stakeholders.”

Juneteenth is a federal holiday that was established on June 17, 2021, when President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. This year, June 19 falls on Sunday, so court staffs will have Monday off as a paid holiday.

At Monday’s Economic Development and Finance Committee meeting, County Commissioner Cindy Garber, R-District 6, was not in support of giving county employees a day off. She called the holiday “ridiculous” and “liberal” in her public comments at Monday’s meeting.

Several other commissioners echoed Garber’s concerns and kicked the issue to Wednesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, where the issue will be discussed further. If approved then, it could be approved at the full board meeting Thursday.

Shiawassee County Coordinator Brian Boggs said in an email that the ruling would not affect the county’s budget or finances, as court employees are not on-call 24/7 and do not receive overtime.

The holiday commemorates the day in 1865, after the end of the Civil War, when Union Army General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, which freed all slaves in Texas, the last Confederate state where slavery existed.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” Granger’s order reads. “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order that freed over 3.5 million enslaved African Americans. Congress later passed the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States.

However, with the Civil War raging on, slave owners in the south were reluctant to give up their source of labor.

Prior to Granger’s order being issued, areas of some southern states where there were no Union troops present were slow to accept the south had lost the Civil War and that slavery was illegal. The Confederate forces in the east had surrendered at Appomattox Court House in April 1865, but the Trans-Mississippi Army did not surrender until June 2, 1865.

Some early celebrations of the end of slavery were referred to as “Jubilee Day,” and were often used as workshops to teach young, newly-freed Black citizens to vote.

(6) comments

Pastor-Mike

It's difficult to understand how anyone would object to celebrating the end of slavery.

nashmi

The commissioners of Shiawasse County continue to amaze me how inept, corrupt, and racists they are. If this was a hail dtrump holiday they would be pooping themselves.

Louise

Cindy Garber and all the other commissioners that agreed with her are racists and bigots and are an embarrassment to our county government. The end of slavery is not a "liberal idea" - rather, it is the affirmation that "all men are created equal." I would like to know exactly which commissioners echoed her racist comments.

ibcruzing

It’s a very sad day when the people who have been elected to represent those in their community do not represent their constituents but, instead, only represent their own agendas. I urge people to vote for a commissioner who truly has your best interests and concerns in mind when the next elections roll around. It’s time for us to make a stand and make a change.

Mother Hen

The commissioners are out of touch with their constituents and continue to serve themselves first. Garber is a fool is she believes Juneteenth is a liberal idea/holiday. I suggest Garber educate herself before opening her mouth to spew forth her uneducated opinions once again.

Jackieleon12

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