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Released: 6/16/2021 

DRPA and PATCO Celebrate Juneteenth

Agency to mark the occasion with a day of reflection for employees and special decorative lighting on the Ben Franklin Bridge and in PATCO Stations

Today, the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) Board of Commissioners announced the agency would formally recognize Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, as an agency holiday. DRPA and Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) administrative offices will be closed on Friday, June 18, in observance. Employees are encouraged to reflect on the day’s significance and consider actions each of us can take to demonstrate empathy and decency to work together toward a better future for all Americans.

“Juneteenth, the day when the last Black people in our country were freed from slavery, has always been an important date in our nation’s history,” said Cherelle L. Parker, DRPA Chairwoman. “But, given the challenges our country continues to face when it comes to eradicating systemic racism, recognizing this day, in 2021, as a paid holiday is critically important. Now, more than ever is the time for bold action.”

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” However, it was not until June 19, 1865, two years later, that more than 250,000 enslaved individuals in Galveston, Texas, learned that the Civil War had ended, and they were free. Today, Black Americans recognize June 19 as Juneteenth, a combination of the month and date that the notice was received. Today, many refer to the day as ‘Freedom Day.’

“I am pleased to support a paid holiday that commemorates the day in 1865 that officially marked the end of slavery in the United States,” said Jeffrey L. Nash, DRPA Vice-Chair. “Raising awareness about this day in our nation’s history is important.”

In 2020, for the first time, DRPA/PATCO formally commemorated the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth and encouraged employees to reflect on the importance of the day.

“At DRPA and PATCO, we strive to manage through our strategic plan, mission, vision, and shared values,” said John T. Hanson. “Equity, diversity, and inclusion are an important part of that goal. We appreciate the leadership of the Board to translate those ideals into a demonstrable action to the employees, the region, and the world on what we stand for at DRPA and PATCO.”

To further commemorate the Juneteenth holiday, the Ben Franklin Bridge and PATCO Station concourses will be aglow in red and green colors on Friday, June 18, and Saturday, June 19.

Bridges will remain open, and PATCO will operate its regular weekday schedule.

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