IRONDEQUOIT, NY (WROC) — Juneteenth, is a national holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. An Irondequoit Town Councilmember claims the Town Board is proposing to remove the holiday, and that the funding is set to fail.
The town responded by saying proper meetings have not happened, and Irondequoit is still honoring the holiday.
The Irondequoit Commission on Advancing Racial Equity — or ICARE — says they’ve been trying to plan Juneteenth events for June 17 and 18.
Councilmember and ICARE leader Patrina Freeman says the town voted to table discussions on Juneteenth until May 10th, with public input only allowed during a board meeting on May 17th. ICARE says this would give them only a month to organize Juneteenth events.
“We’re not getting one, the funding…and two, staff members have been told they are not to work with me on commanding this,” Freeman said.
But Town Supervisor Rory Fitzpatrick says he’s asked ICARE —an advisory panel and not part of the board— for input and planning. He says he’s not heard from them since January 4th.
“We just need to collaborate and actually meet and discuss what’s going to happen; we want to include all organizations here in town,” Fitzpatrick said.
He adds Juneteenth is big, and will be celebrated. “We’re lucky enough to have two events here that we’ll be doing. One is a town event and another is by a group called ‘ERASE’ (Eliminating Racism & Seeking Equity).”
Freeman says getting funding for ICARE’s event shouldn’t be hard, and doing Juneteenth isn’t new. “As a matter of fact, we’ve done two of them during the pandemic, so we know how to manage this,” she said.
To avoid this problem in the future, she feels Juneteenth should be fully funded from the get-go. Freeman says they’re looking for about $1,000 out of an annual budget of $40 million.
“The overall town board’s emphasis and support of ICARE has wavered,” she said.
Freeman said their typical Juneteenth celebration has a children’s day and another day with games and tents. One of the other Juneteenth events sponsored by ‘ERASE’ in Irondequoit will happen on June 19th at the Town Hall.
Freeman is also suing the town claiming racial discrimination for past instances.
‘Juneteenth’ dates back to 1865 when slaves were first informed about the end of slavery in Gavelston, Texas. It was made a federal holiday last year by President Joe Biden.