Mount Laurel council observed Juneteenth and Pride Month at its regular meeting on June 13.
Mayor Kareem Pritchett read a proclamation about Juneteenth that noted the federal holiday’s history.
“Whereas Juneteenth is observed annually on June 19, it commemorates the freedom of enslaved people in the United States,” the proclamation read. “President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all enslaved people in the states engage in rebellion against the Union.”
The text went on to explain that Texas was the last state in the Confederacy to free enslaved people, two years after Lincoln’s historic proclamation. Slaves in Galveston first learned they were free on June 19, 1865.
“Whereas Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday in 2021, it marks our country’s second independence day,” Pritchett read. “This day shall be recognized as an opportunity to not only to celebrate, but to also speak out against racial inequality and discrimination.”
Council also approved a resolution proclaiming June Pride Month.
“Whereas Pride Month is celebrated each year in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City, LGBTQ individuals, allies and friends rose up and stood against the constant harassment and discriminatory law that has since been declared unconstitutional,” Pritchett read from a proclamation.
“The township of Mount Laurel cherishes the value and dignity of each person and appreciates the importance of equality and freedom,” he added. “All are welcome in this community.”
The mayor cited the township’s LGBTQ+ community for its dedication to equality.
“Pride Month reminds us of the strength of the LGBTQ+ community and their determination to create a society that is safe, free, and supportive,” Pritchett said in a release.
“We have zero tolerance for discrimination in any form, as we value our rich diversity.”
In another release, Deputy Mayor Stephen Steglik said council will continue to support the LGBTQ+ community.
“Township council stands united with LGBTQ+ communities as they continue to fight for the equality they deserve,” he noted. “Every resident in our community deserves to feel supported and welcomed in the place they call home.”
Councilwoman Karen Cohen cited the township for its continued diversity and recognition of Pride Month, and praised the state’s progressive views.
“This is the month that we celebrate LGBTQIA, and I am proud to live in a community that recognizes that,” she said. “And I’m proud to live in a state that’s as progressive as New Jersey is.”
The next council meeting will be held on July 11.