Mayor Freddie O’Connell Celebrates Juneteenth in Nashville

Mayor O’Connell proclaims Juneteenth as an official city holiday.

Mayor Freddie O’Connell has proclaimed June 19, 2024, as Juneteenth Independence Day in Nashville. He is set to speak Wednesday evening at the historic Fort Negley site for the Juneteenth615 event. This follows one of his first executive orders, Executive Order 3, which continues the recognition of Juneteenth as an official holiday of the Metro Government. Consequently, Metro Offices will be closed on Wednesday, June 19, in observance of the holiday.

“We will continue to advance policies anchored in equity, inclusion, and belonging because those policies reveal our strengths,” Mayor O’Connell remarked. “Juneteenth honors the past, but it also frames the future. It challenges us to live up to the great ideals of this nation, to match the eloquence of our words with the honesty of our deeds. It reminds us that from our darkest moments, we have the capacity to dream, to heal, and to rise, especially when we work together.”

At the Juneteenth event at Fort Negley, Mayor O’Connell will highlight the enduring story of Fort Negley and the loss of Civil Rights icon James Lawson. Fort Negley was built by more than 2,700 free Black people for the Union in 1864. They constructed the largest inland stone fortification during the Civil War in just four months. Black soldiers played a key role in defending Nashville during the Battle of Nashville on December 15 and 16, 1864, a significant conflict marking the largest participation of Black soldiers in the Civil War.

Nashville recently celebrated 615 Day, which marks the growth of Black Nashville Music and coincided with the 10-day celebration of Taste of Freedom Restaurant Week. Mayor O’Connell and Chief Development Officer Bob Mendes visited The Horn, one of the 24 participating restaurants. The Taste of Freedom Restaurant Week celebrates the contributions of black-owned restaurants to Nashville’s culinary landscape. Other Juneteenth events included Black on Buchanan, the Juneteenth Music City 5K, and the Music City Freedom Festival at Hadley Park.

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The Importance of Juneteenth

Juneteenth marks the arrival of federal troops in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, to enforce the end of slavery, occurring two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and is recognized as the longest-running African American holiday, becoming a federal holiday on June 17, 2021.