CITY OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — As Buffalo prepares for Juneteenth, there are some local cities that are not officially recognizing Juneteenth as a national holiday.

Juneteenth commemorates the ending of slavery and became a national holiday last year after a period of civil unrest and protests.

Rev. Mark Blue of the Buffalo NAACP expressed frustration that some local cities aren’t honoring Juneteenth, acknowledging that the holiday embraces diversity.

The City of Buffalo is preparing for its Juneteenth Festival over the weekend. State landmarks such as Niagara Falls are getting set to observe Juneteenth.

But, the City of Tonawanda will not officially recognize Juneteenth on Monday, instead, employees are expected to report to work, or use a personal day if they want the day off. Earlier this week, News 4 received an email from a city worker with concerns about the city not recognizing Juneteenth.

“And, this is the kind of insensitivity that people need to get away to stop doing,” said Jacob Fleming, Sr., the founder of the Niagara Falls Juneteenth Committee.

Last year, the city, through a memorandum of understanding with worker unions recognized Juneteenth as a holiday.

But that was only good for one year.

This year, under a new administration, no such agreement was put in place. City of Tonawanda Mayor John White told News 4 by phone he didn’t have time to do an interview with us.

“To have done it last year and then you knew it became a national holiday, y’all kind of dropped the ball when you were negotiating contracts and doing contracts,” Fleming said.

We found a similar story in neighboring North Tonawanda where again, union contracts do not honor Juneteenth as a holiday. City Mayor Austin Tylec told News 4 by phone he is open to negotiating Juneteenth as a holiday for workers before those contracts expire in a couple of years. Officials in the Tonawandas said they do understand the importance of Juneteenth.

Still, the lack of recognition, frustrating to some, as the community continues to cope with the racially-motivated mass shooting at Tops.

“We know that Black history is American history and if you give days like July 4th off and things like that and other historical days now that this has become a national holiday this day needs to be recognized,” Fleming said.

Meanwhile, the City of Buffalo and Erie County government observe Juneteenth. Ginger Schroder, a local labor attorney said local governments do not have to recognize federal and state holidays. But, it is common practice for them to do so.

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Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.