Juneteenth and Veterans Day on Marietta council special call meeting agenda
In the wake of Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin’s veto of the Juneteenth holiday during a Marietta City Council meeting on April 13, a special call meeting of the council will be held on Tuesday, April 26 to discuss adding both Juneteenth and Veterans Day as paid holidays for the City of Marietta staff.
The special call meeting will occur after the council’s regular committee meetings, which start at 5:15 p.m. The discussion of the holidays has been added to the agenda by Mayor Tumlin, but the council will not take a vote on the matter Tuesday.
Moments after the Marietta council passed the Juneteenth holiday with a 4 to 3 vote, Tumlin vetoed it. The Council members tried to override Tumlin’s veto but needed five votes to do so, which they did not have. Tumlin was oblivious to the potential ramifications his veto of the Juneteenth holiday would cause. Some say Tumlin was tone-deaf to the desires of the community on this issue and the advocacy of the Cobb NAACP. Others say it was wrong for him and other council members to link Veterans Day to Juneteenth or make passing one dependent on the treatment of the other. The push for adding Juneteenth as a holiday was led by Marietta Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson. Disgusted by Tumlin’s veto, Richardson walked out of the meeting while Cobb NAACP members and other members of the community stayed for the public comment period where they criticized the Mayor and his veto.
Many were also dismayed by the suggestion of some that Marietta had to choose between honoring veterans or the freedom of enslaved people with a holiday. Those we spoke with were offended by Tumlin’s comments that Veterans Day is “multiple times more inclusive” than Juneteenth. In an attempt to explain his comment, Tumlin said ‘everyone has veterans in their family’. Finding his words reprehensible and insensitive, some were quick to point out the assertion from Tumlin’s comment, everyone does not have ‘former slaves in the family’. They say Tumlin is oblivious to the fact that slavery and its ugly history have impacted us all. Juneteenth is an important date in American history for Black people and other caring citizens as it commemorates the ending of slavery in the U.S. in 1865. Many cities have taken steps to recognize the significance of the date and have added Juneteenth as a holiday including the federal government, the state of Georgia, and the counties of Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett.
The Cobb NAACP has championed the celebration of Juneteenth with an annual festival on the Marietta Square for more than 15 years. This has occurred with the blessing of the city of Marietta, which is why many were shocked by Tumlin’s veto. The NAACP’s weekend celebration brings young and old together for music, food, and fun in honor of the holiday.
After receiving much criticism, Tumlin now says he is open to adding both holidays. City Manager Bill Bruton says adding another paid holiday for city workers would cost Marietta in the range of $50,000 to $55,000 per holiday.
Marietta currently provides its employees ten paid holidays including New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, “Spring Day” (the city’s secular term for Good Friday), Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after, Christmas Eve and Christmas.