Spring Lake first municipality in Cumberland County to make Juneteenth official holiday

SPRINGS LAKE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Town of Spring Lake will be celebrating its first official Juneteenth in its 50-year existence and is the first municipality in Cumberland County to pass this kind of resolution.

On Monday night, the Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution to recognize Juneteenth as a paid employee holiday.

Mayor Larry Dobbins told ABC11 that it's a major milestone, especially since this same resolution didn't pass in 2020.

"I'm happy to say it succeeded," he said.

Dobbins jokingly responded to the subsequent declarations from President Joe Biden and Gov. Roy Cooper with, "safe to say we were being ahead of the curve."

But it wasn't just town leaders who made this happen. Kia Anthony, the founder and president of Circa 1865, was also a strong advocate for the town's resolution.

"I constantly petitioned the board of Aldermen," Anthony said. The Fayetteville local's organization aims to unite the African community through education and community outreach, also pushing for Juneteenth recognition. The number "1865" representing the year Black slaves in Galveston, Texas found out they were free.

The day has long been important and observed in Texas but few knew about the date or its significance outside of the Lone Star State.

"The collective work that's been happening since the early 80's to push, to really make this a federal holiday. All of the work that has been done in Galveston, Texas," Anthony said.

Anthony and Dobbins said this is symbolic change that needed to happen.

"It acknowledges the fact that someone said, 'yes, let's fix this.' And it also means that there's a chance to fix other things in this country as well," Dobbins said.

Both said now is the time to address other issues affecting the African-American community, from voting rights, to inequality and equity.

Dobbins said that though the town of 12,000 will celebrate its first official Juneteenth on Saturday, employees won't get paid until 2022, because of finalized budgets.
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