AceShowbiz - Pharrell Williams is leading a host of stars launching The Juneteenth Pledge campaign to ensure the day marking the end of slavery in the U.S. becomes a fully paid holiday.
Pharrell, Ellen DeGeneres, TV writer Kenya Barris and CNN contributor Van Jones launched the initiative on Monday, June 29, partnering with international advocacy organisation Global Citizen and global CEO advisory firm Teneo.
Their formal campaign builds upon similar calls for states to mark the holiday the "Happy" hitmaker made when Juneteenth was celebrated on 19th June, as African-Americans poignantly marked the 155th anniversary of the last slaves in Texas being emancipated.
In a press release announcing the new campaign, Pharrell says: "I love America for its progression, but I'm really in love with the untapped potential of this country."
"It was incredible to have powerful minds come together and really listen and be open to celebrating Juneteenth as a paid holiday. These companies influence which way the wind blows, they influence the economy and this was a very meaningful step in the right direction."
Ellen adds: "This is a time to be on the right side of history. As a white person I cannot do enough. My wish is for everyone to join together in this fight."
The pledge calls on companies to not only declare Juneteenth a paid holiday for U.S. employees but also to identify a relevant day in international offices to recognise the emancipation of enslaved people in other counties, as well as supporting education for their employees teaching them to respect all cultures. It will also include a social media campaign backing efforts in the U.S. Congress to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Companies that have already agreed to the pledge include Adidas, Airbnb, Amblin Partners, Greensill, HP, Participant, The J. M. Smucker Company, Starbucks, and Under Armour.