AceShowbiz - Pharrell Williams declared that June 19 will be officially recognised as Juneteenth in the state of Virginia during a press conference on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.
The 47-year-old Happy hitmaker joined Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to share the news that the date, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, will be recognised annually state-wide.
"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. They're dancing in celebration because their lives are finally being acknowledged," Pharrell said.
"This is our chance to lead by example. This is our chance to lead, to truly embrace the importance of Juneteenth and treat it as a celebration of freedom that black people deserve… this is about proper recognition," he continued. "This is the chance for our government, our corporations and our citizens to all stand in solidarity with their African-American brothers and sisters."
Explaining the significance of recognising the date when the Emancipation Proclamation was read to Texan slaves on 19 June, 1865, after the South lost the U.S. Civil War, the "Frontin' " singer added, "I would like to see corporations that call Virginia their home give people the paid day off. There is no turning back. We are only moving one direction now: forward."
All state employees in the executive branch will be given a paid day off on Juneteenth, according to Governor Northam, with many major companies, including Twitter, Nike, and America's National Football League (NFL), announcing that Juneteenth will be recognised as a company holiday.
The move comes amid ongoing protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement worldwide, aiming to put an end to systematic racism and racial injustice globally.