Juneteenth: Usher, Pharrell Williams and more advocate for date to become national holiday

Juneteenth: Usher, Pharrell Williams and more advocate for date to become national holiday

Juneteenth: Usher, Pharrell Williams and more advocate for date to become national holiday

Juneteenth: Usher, Pharrell Williams and more advocate for date to become national holiday

Juneteenth: Usher, Pharrell Williams and more advocate for date to become national holiday 1

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Usher and Pharrell Williams are among several public figures to have advocated in favour of Juneteenth becoming a national holiday in the US.

Juneteenth, which falls on 19 June, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people on that date in 1865.

In an essay for The Washington Post, Usher highlighted the historical significance of the day, writing: “The liberation Juneteenth commemorates is cause for celebration, but it also reminds us how equality can be delayed. On 19 June 1865, on the shores of Galveston, Texas, Union General Gordon Granger arrived by boat to announce to enslaved African Americans that the Civil War had ended and they were now free.


“While President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was issued two and a half years prior, and the Civil War had ended in April of that year, it wasn’t until 19 June 1865, that almost all of our ancestors were free. We should honour their lives and celebrate that day of freedom forever.”

He added: “Recognising Juneteenth as a national holiday would be a small gesture compared with the greater social needs of black people in America. But it can remind us of our journey towards freedom, and the work America still has to do.”

Williams also made a powerful plea on Jimmy Kimmel’s show on Thursday, saying that while 47 states acknowledge Juneteenth in some capacity, that isn’t the same as having the date recognised as a federal holiday.

“I just think it’s high time that if we’re going to think about what independence and freedom really looks like – ours was never really acknowledged,” he said.

“There are 47 states that observe it but it’s not a paid holiday. We deserve a paid holiday.”

Williams then discussed his push to have Virginia, his native state, recognise Juneteenth as a state holiday. Governor Ralph Northam announced this week that he intends to make the day a permanent state holiday going forward, beginning by giving state employee a day off this Friday.

George Takei also spoke out in favour of making Juneteenth a national holiday, tweeting: “#Juneteenth should be a paid national holiday. Raise your hand if you agree, and pass it along.”

Taylor Swift expressed support on Instagram and explained she had decided to give all of her staff the day off in acknowledgement of Juneteenth.

“Personally, I’ve made the decision to give all of my employees 19 June off in honour of Freedom Day from now on, and to continue to educate myself on the history that brought us to this present moment,” she wrote.

“For my family, everything that has transpired recently gives us an opportunity to reflect, listen, and reprogram any part of our lives that hasn’t been loudly and ferociously anti-racist, and to never let privilege lie dormant when it could be used to stand up for what’s right.”

Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us and 13th were both made available to stream for free ahead of Juneteenth. The latter is also available on YouTube.


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