Virginia Governor Calls For Juneteenth To Be State Holiday

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Gov. Northam adds that we need to do much more than just recognizing the date with a written proclamation.

According to The Hill, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Tuesday that he will “make Juneteenth, the June 19 commemoration of the end of American slavery, a paid holiday for all executive branch employees – and propose a bill making it a statewide paid holiday.”

  • Northam made the announcement with Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams and said that “it's time we elevate this, not just a celebration by and for some Virginians, but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us.”

  • June 19th was the date in 1865 when Gen. Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation to former slaves in Texas, which was the final state where it was read, The Hill reported, adding that it “has been celebrated since 1866 and is a state holiday or observance in 47 states.”

Williams called the announcement “a very special moment” and a “big display of progress,” adding “from this moment on when you look at the vastness of the night sky and you see those stars moving up there, know that those stars are our African ancestors dancing ... because their lives are finally being acknowledged.”

  • The Hill reported that “several private companies recently announced the date would be a paid holiday as well, including Twitter, Square, and the NFL.”

“We need to inspire teachers and students to learn about this place and this time and help us understand how we got to this moment and why it is so important for us to realize that we have to do something now when we see such unmitigated violence against unarmed people — against people who are trying to live what we call the American dream,” Lauranett Lee, a University of Richmond public historian and visiting lecturer in the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, said in a statement.

This renewed interest in Juneteenth has “accompanied the nationwide surge of protests and demonstrations” against racial injustice and police violence.

Read the report here.

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