By Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2020

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois’ largest county is recognizing Juneteenth as an official holiday and a paid day off for county workers.

Juneteenth will be one of 14 government holidays granted to all Cook County employees next year.

Juneteenth marks the June day in 1865 that Union soldiers told enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and they were free. The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the South in 1863, but it was not enforced in many places until after the end of the Civil War.

“This year, Cook County and the nation have experienced unprecedented racial and civil unrest,” Commissioner Stanley Moore said Thursday. “The call to recognize Juneteenth in light of these unfortunate events is stronger than ever.”

Juneteenth is not a federal holiday. Gov. J.B Pritzker has said he wants to make it a state holiday.

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