God’s Property Dance Ministry performs at the town of Hempstead’s...

God’s Property Dance Ministry performs at the town of Hempstead’s annual Juneteenth celebration Tuesday. Credit: Corey Sipkin

On Tuesday, Hempstead Town Hall was full of musical entertainment, smiles from children and cultural pride during its annual Juneteenth celebration.

The event, led by Deputy Supervisor Dorothy L. Goosby and organized by town hall staff, featured an array of performances by children from the Uniondale Show Choir, Darlene Allen’s Kids, God’s Property Dance Ministry and more.

Goosby said the celebration unites the community together and allows local children to lift their voices and express themselves.

“We invite the community and they learn and come to celebrate with us because they enjoy it,” Goosby said. “Those kids love this. They get the chance to do things they've never had the opportunity to do before. And that's important to them and we make sure to let them know how great they are.”

Juneteenth, short for "June Nineteenth," marks June 19, 1865, as the day Major General Gordon Granger led Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas to announce the end of the Civil War and proclaim freedom for enslaved people.

This announcement came over two years after President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation had officially outlawed slavery in the Southern states.

On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, officially making June 19 a federal holiday.

“I'm glad that they passed a bill because it really means a lot,” said Bishop Willie Fowler. “Education is very important not just for us, but for others who don't even look like us to get an understanding of who we are.”

The event also gave the stage to young community members, who educated the audience on the genesis of Juneteenth, its historical significance and the sacrifices that were made to secure the emancipation of Black people.

“This experience really expanded our horizons and we had the privilege to minister to the audience and show the emotion of what it feels like to be free and liberated from the shackles that our people have been through,” said God’s Property dancer Ashley McClymont, 17, of Springfield, Queens.

Most Suffolk County employees have the federal holiday off, spokesman Mike Martino told Newsday, while Nassau County does not allow employees to take it — drawing the condemnation of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus.

Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont), a caucus chairwoman, said in a statement Tuesday: “Nassau County represents several unique cultures and ethnicities, some of which are being disregarded by this upsetting decision. Although the County held a recent Juneteenth celebration, the Nassau County Government refuses to recognize Juneteenth as a paid County holiday, unlike the federal and state governments.”

Her statement continued: “Ignoring the actual significance of this anniversary is a disservice to those who were liberated as well as their descendants.”

In February 2022, Nassau Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) filed a bill requiring the county to recognize Juneteenth as a county holiday. Majority Republicans in the Nassau County Legislature never called the bill for a vote.

County officials have said Nassau cannot recognize the holiday until it's been negotiated into union contracts. Representatives for county Executive Bruce Blakeman and majority Republicans in the county legislature did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

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