Madison officially added Juneteenth as a paid holiday for city employees and renamed the day after Thanksgiving to Ho-Chunk Day.
On Tuesday, the City Council signed off on a proposal making the changes in a unanimous decision on its consent agenda.
The ordinance amendment would ensure all city employees receive paid time off on June 19, which is the day that recognizes the date in 1865 — nearly two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed — when enslaved African Americans in Texas learned of their freedom. Employees who have to work that day would receive overtime pay.
Madison follows Dane County adding Juneteenth as a paid holiday last year, and the federal government designating the day as a legal public holiday last month. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers attempted to include the day as a holiday in his 2021 budget proposal, but the measure was removed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
City employees already receive a paid holiday on the day after Thanksgiving. Those who would need to work that day are paid overtime and can save the holiday to use at some other point in the year.
The resolution officially changes the name of the holiday and acknowledges the history of the Ho-Chunk people, who were the first residents of Madison and were forcibly removed from the state by the federal government.
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