Governor Ralph Northam proclaimed June 19, as Juneteenth Freedom Day, calling all Virginians to observance and encouraging them to join in commemorative events throughout the Commonwealth. Earlier this week, performing artist and Virginia native Pharrell Williams joined the Governor as he announced plans to mark Juneteenth as a permanent paid state holiday.

Juneteenth is the oldest known commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, the last of the former Confederate states to abolish slavery, finally received word that the Civil War had ended, and the Emancipation Proclamation had freed them nearly two and a half years earlier.

“The history of Juneteenth is not just Black history—it is American history,” said Governor Northam. “Juneteenth marks a pivotal moment in the American story that should be commemorated by all of us. I encourage Virginians across our Commonwealth to take the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and understanding of Juneteenth and celebrate the numerous contributions of Black and African Americans that have, for far too long, been overlooked.”

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