Cuomo to make Juneteenth a holiday for state employees

New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoJudge rejects 'right to travel' challenge to New York's coronavirus quarantine rules Marlee Matlin: 'Unfathomable' that White House doesn't have sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup MORE (D) announced Wednesday he will sign an executive order making Juneteenth a holiday for all state employees this year and advance legislation making it an official state holiday in 2021.

“It is a day that we should all reflect upon, it’s a day that is especially relevant in this moment in history,” Cuomo said in reference to the day marking the emancipation of slaves in the U.S., adding that he would sign the executive order Wednesday.

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The holiday, observed June 19, has been celebrated by African Americans dating back to 1866, but it has been in the headlines in recent weeks as protests against police brutality and racism have led to broader discussions of the history of race relations in the U.S. and how that history has shaped American culture.

Twitter, Nike and the NFL have all announced the day will be a company-wide holiday, while Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), accompanied by Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams, made a similar announcement to Cuomo’s on Tuesday.

“It’s time we elevate this," Northam said. “It finally shut the door on the enslavement of African American people.”

Philadelphia also announced the date would be a city holiday Tuesday.

“The only way to dismantle the institutional racism and inequalities that continue to disenfranchise Black Philadelphians is to look critically at how we got here, and make much-needed changes to the governmental systems that allow inequality to persist,” Mayor Jim Kenney (D) said.