Northam to push legislation to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday

Henrietta Strickland
June 17, 2020

Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he will propose making Juneteenth - a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the USA - an official holiday in a state that was once home to the capital of the Confederacy.

Northam said Virginia ceremonially recognizes Juneteenth Independence Day with an annual written proclamation, "but we need to do much more". It marks the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, the last of the former Confederate states to abolish slavery, finally heard that the Civil War had ended, and learned that the Emancipation Proclamation had made them free almost two years earlier.

"It's time we elevate this", Northam said of the June 19 commemoration.

Northam said while it does not end racism, black oppression or violence the day is an important symbol.

The holiday would be a paid day off for all state employees.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed two years before Granger made the announcement in Texas, the state was still heavily involved in slavery as Union troops were minimal in the area, making enforcement of the order to free all slaves hard.

Northam was joined Tuesday at his news conference by musician Pharrell Williams, who is from Virginia.

The Houston Texans will close their business and football offices on Friday in recognition of Juneteenth, celebrated as the official "Emancipation Day" in the United States.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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