Northam proposes Juneteenth be recognized as a state holiday

Virginia News

Top House Republican expresses support for the proposal

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said Tuesday that he will propose legislation to make Juneteenth, a celebration observed on June 19 commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, be recognized as a paid state holiday during a press conference alongside Virginia native Pharrell Williams.

A release on Tuesday from the governor’s office teased an announcement with the singer, producer and entrepreneur. A person briefed on the decision told our sister-station WRIC about Northam’s plans ahead of the press conference.

We were informed that Northam planned to make the announcement with Pharrell and black leaders in Virginia, but did not provide details on whether the governor would sign an executive order or if the General Assembly would need to pass a resolution making Juneteenth a state holiday.

The governor made it clear Tuesday that he will propose legislation for state lawmakers to consider, noting that Virginia would become the second state to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday.

Pharrell made headlines last week after proposing to have Black Lives Matter painted down on Virginia Beach’s oceanfront boardwalk on social media. Following Pharrell’s Instagram post, Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer said he and his staff were discussing the option of getting the artwork done.

Virginia House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) shared his support for the proposal in a statement.

“I am proud to add my support to proposed legislation marking June 19th, Juneteenth, as an official state holiday. July 4th is the birthday of our nation, but Juneteenth is the day where it truly began to fulfill its promise of freedom for all. For the first time since enslaved Africans landed at Jamestown in 1619, the chains of bondage were finally cast off. The Republican Party was founded with the express goal of ending slavery, and it still celebrates the legacy of Abraham Lincoln to this day. As the greatest part of that legacy, Juneteenth is the day that the God-given gift of liberty for all Americans was finally proclaimed throughout the land, and it is deserving of its own special recognition and observance.”


Watch the news conference below:

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