By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – In a split vote, Canadian County Commissioners added Juneteenth to the 2024 holiday schedule.
Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of African American slaves, has been observed as a federal holiday since 2021.
But it has not been part of the official Canadian County holiday calendar.
That changed Oct. 2 when commissioners voted 2-1 to recognize Juneteenth in the county’s 2024 schedule.
That means Canadian County offices will be closed 12 days for holidays, instead of 11.
“My motivation to recognize Juneteenth is to ask that we do that in honor and inclusion of diversity for the county – and the message that will send,” District 3 Commissioner Tracey Rider said. “I think it’s important for us to do that.”
Counties of similar size and larger than Canadian County already observe at least 12 holidays annually, Rider noted.
In recent years, Canadian County’s holiday schedule has followed the Oklahoma state calendar with 11 paid days off for employees – including two days at Thanksgiving and two days at Christmas.
Rider pointed out that Grady, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Caddo, Logan, McLain, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Blaine, and Dewey counties all recognize more holidays than the State of Oklahoma.
“And most of those do observe Juneteenth,” she said.
Also supporting the change to add Juneteenth was Canadian County’s other first-year commissioner, District 1’s Tom Manske.
“I am in favor of the 12 (holidays),” Manske said. “I think that’s a good, round number.”
Surrounding counties have 15 paid holidays plus accrued leave for employees, he added.
Manske also believes it’s important to “honor the holiday for what it is.”
June 19 is the anniversary of when news reached Galveston, Texas in 1865 that the Civil War had ended, and all enslaved persons were then released from the bondage of slavery.
President Joe Biden in 2021 signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, recognizing June 19 as a federal holiday.
’11 IS A GOOD NUMBER’
District 2 Commissioner Dave Anderson was against adding the holiday to Canadian County’s official calendar. He voted “no” on Rider’s motion.
The State of Oklahoma’s calendar does not include Juneteenth.
“I have always believed that we should follow the state and its holiday schedule,” said Anderson, Canadian County’s commission chair. “I think 11 is a good number.
“I don’t know many private employers who give their employees that many paid holidays.”
The four-term District 2 commissioner said he noticed that Easter Sunday, Columbus Day and Good Friday are “not mentioned” in state statute as designated holidays.
“In statute, Juneteenth is set out as a legal holiday on the third Saturday of June – and Will Rogers Day is the fourth day of November,” Anderson said.
“Other significant days are Oklahoma Historical Day October 10, Jim Thorpe Day May 22, Bird Day is May 1, and my favorite – Golf Day – is the third Wednesday of June. There are a lot of days that statute recognizes as holidays.”
June 19th has been celebrated in communities across the United States as “Juneteenth” and has also been designated as “Freedom Day”, “Jubilee Day”, “Liberation Day”, and “Emancipation Day.”
The City of Yukon began observing the holiday in June 2022.
The federal government’s holiday schedule includes Juneteenth and Columbus Day – but has just one day for Thanksgiving and one day for Christmas.