Wyandanch, NY – Two resolutions introduced by Legislator Jason Richberg were unanimously approved by the Suffolk County Legislature at its general meeting on June 23: IR1573-2020, “Commemorating Juneteenth in Suffolk County,” and IR1361-2020, “A Local Law to amend Chapter 528 of the Suffolk County Code to prevent discrimination based on certain visible characteristics.”IR1361-2020 aims to protect residents with certain hairstyles and religious garments from being unfairly discriminated against because of these visible traits. Under existing Suffolk County law, it is unlawful to discriminate based on a person’s group identity, which includes their actual or perceived race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, or familial status, as well as actual military status. This legislation adds certain physical attributes, such as protective hairstyles, braids, hair textures, and religious garments as components of group identity under the county’s Human Rights Law.“I introduced IR1361 because I feel strongly it is of critical importance that in a fair and just society, people are judged by the content of their character, not their physical features; by their merits, not by what they’re wearing,” said Legislator Richberg.Also approved in a unanimous vote was IR1573-2020, which commemorates Juneteenth in Suffolk County. Juneteenth is celebrated annually to commemorate June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and brought news that slavery had been abolished more than two years earlier. Beginning in 2021 and continuing every year, Suffolk County will celebrate Juneteenth on June 19th with educational events and programing to honor the significance of Juneteenth in American history.
“This year marks the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, a day
that symbolizes the official end of slavery in the United States,” said
Legislator Richberg. “The time is now for our country to collectively observe
the significance of the emancipation of our enslaved ancestors. I’m incredibly thankful
for the unanimous support this bill received from my colleagues in the
legislature.”The Suffolk County Human Rights Commission will develop and coordinate at least one event, in conjunction with the Office of Minority Affairs and community organizations. Additionally, on the evening of every June 19, the H. Lee Dennison Executive Office Building and the Suffolk County Legislature William H. Rogers Building will remain intentionally unlit to commemorate the struggle for freedom for all enslaved individuals in the United States.Governor Andrew Cuomo recognized Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees in 2020 and said he intends to establish it as a permanent state holiday in the future.