Pharrell William speech with the Virginia Governor Gov. Ralph Northam who announce legislature that would make Juneteenth (Friday, June 19)—the day that celebrates the end of American slavery in 1865—an official state holiday.
All state employees will observe a paid day off as the governor’s law is projected to pass the Democrat-controlled state legislature.
Gov. Northam and Williams referenced a conversation they had over the weekend where the pop star encouraged the politician to make Juneteenth an official holiday in Virginia. He gave an emotional speech referencing his own ancestors, who were slaves, and Virginia’s historic role in the slave trade.
“This is a very special moment,” he said. “From this moment on when you look up, 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. They’re dancing in celebration because their lives are finally being acknowledged. And I can’t say it too many times up here today, a paid holiday. It’s not the end of it. It’s merely just the beginning. Their lives matter. Their descendants’ lives matter. Black lives matter in the eyes of the commonwealth.”