Gov. John Carney announced he will close state of Delaware offices June 19 in recognition of Juneteenth.
“Over the last several weeks, we have seen largely peaceful protests demanding racial justice and equality across our state,” said Carney in a statement. “I have spent much of this time listening and trying to chart a productive path forward. We can make meaningful change, and I believe we will.”
“As we move forward, I believe the least that each of us can do is commit to learning the lessons of our history. The good and the bad,” said Carney. “That’s why on Friday, June 19, we will close state offices in recognition of Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans in the United States. This holiday offers an opportunity to encourage open dialogue, and to recommit to treating one another with more respect.”
“We are also working with the Delaware Heritage Commission to create an educational program around issues of race and slavery in Delaware and the U.S.,” said Carney. “If we don’t educate ourselves and acknowledge our ugly history around race, we can’t begin to understand the anger and frustration that I’ve heard from so many Delawareans in the last several weeks.”
“But we shouldn’t stop there” said Carney.
“Next week, I will sign an executive order to ban the use of choke-holds at the Delaware State Police and Capitol Police, and require additional de-escalation training” said Carney. “We will stop posting mugshots of children, mandate participation in the national use-of-force database and increase crisis intervention training and mental health services for police officers. These are first steps that we can take administratively to improve the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color.”
“Talk is cheap” said Carney. “We are committed to moving forward productively — and in good faith — to make real change in Delaware. That starts with recognizing our shared history, and learning the lessons of the past.”
At 11 a.m. on June 19, Carney will host a live discussion about Juneteenth with Reba Hollingsworth, vice chair of the Delaware Heritage Commission; local historian Sylvester Woolford; Donna Patterson, chair of the Department of History, Political Science, and Philosophy at Delaware State University; and David Young, executive director of the Delaware Historical Society. Watch the Juneteenth discussion on Carney's Facebook page, or at de.gov/live.