CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Governor Albert Bryan on Thursday declared June 19 a holiday in the U.S. Virgin Islands following the announcement by President Joe Biden establishing the date as a federal holiday.
His announcement came after legislation establishing the Juneteenth holiday was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on Thursday afternoon.
Governor Bryan announced administrative leave for all non-essential government employees and the closure of government offices on Friday in honor of the newly proclaimed federal holiday. The governor also announced that the territory will officially observe the holiday on Saturday in accordance with federal law.
“Although we observe our emancipation on July 3rd, In solidarity with the rest of the nation, we will close government offices and grant administrative leave for non-essential government employees this Friday in honor of the Juneteenth holiday,” Governor Bryan said. “Our country took an important step toward embracing the true telling of its history, and I thank President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the Congress for their bold leadership in officially marking this significant event in black history.”
Juneteenth marks the date in 1865 when the last enslaved Africans in America learned from Union soldiers in Texas that they were free, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
GOVERNMENT OFFICES CLOSED FOR JUNETEENTH
Meanwhile, the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS) said that its offices were closed in order to recognize that the Office of the Governor has granted Administrative Leave for Friday, June 18, 2021 in recognition of Juneteenth.
“DHS offices, territory-wide will be closed except for the essential divisions and workers providing residential services, Meals on Wheels, Homemaker services including our DHS 24-hour facilities,” DHS spokeswoman Michelle Francis said.
- And Virgin Attorney General Denise George said that the Virgin Islands Department of Justice offices territory-wide were also closed today.
“The Office of the governor has granted administrative leave in recognition of Juneteenth,” Attorney General George said.
Department of Justice’s four facilities that are closed to the public include the Office of the Attorney General located at the GERS Building, 2nd floor in St. Thomas and #213 Estate La Reine St. Croix, the Division of Paternity and Child Support located on the 2nd floor of Nisky Shopping Center, St. Thomas and #3018 Estate Orange Grove, St. Croix.
- And the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) said that all of its administrative offices in the territory were closed today “in observance of the newly proclaimed Federal Holiday, Juneteenth.”
“Regular business hours will resume on Monday, June 21, 2021,” VIWMA said.