Pharrell has called on Virginia to announce Juneteenth as a state holiday. The Virginia Beach native joined Governor Northam for the Tuesday briefing on June 16, delivering a moving speech on his own ancestry and discussing the proposed legislation. Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. With the recent nationwide protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans, Juneteeth has seen a resurgence of passion and advocacy focused on declaring the celebration as a paid holiday.
In his speech, Pharrell opened up about how his ancestors were enslaved and urged the government to stand in solidarity by passing the law—set to pass the Democrat-controlled state legislature. He further called on corporations based in Virginia to act as leaders in giving their employees the paid holiday. Watch his speech below.
“From this moment on when you look up, 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. And I can’t say it too many times up here today, a paid holiday. It’s not the end of it. It’s merely just the beginning. Their lives matter. Their descendants’ lives matter. Black lives matter in the eyes of the commonwealth,” states Pharrell.
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Today I joined Virginia Gov. Northam to announce Juneteenth as a state holiday. A paid holiday is just the start—to stand in solidarity with Black employees and with all Black people.
Make no mistake—dance music is born from black culture. Without black creators, innovators, selectors, and communities, the electronic dance music we hold so dear would simply not exist. In short, dance music is deeply indebted to the global black community and we need to be doing more. Black artists and artists of color have played a profound role in shaping the sound and culture of dance music and now more than ever, it is necessary for everyone in the music community to stand up for the people that have given us so much. Mix Session pledges to make every effort to be a better ally, a stronger resource, and a more accountable member of the global dance music community. Black Lives Matter—get involved here:
Black Lives Matter
My Block My Hood My City
National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Program
Black Visions Collective
Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Legal Defense Initiative
The Bail Project
The Next Level Boys Academy
Color of Change
Committee to Protect Journalists
H/T: NME Featured image: Rap Up