State Watch

NJ governor designates Juneteenth as state holiday


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Thursday signed legislation declaring Juneteenth, the day commemorating the emancipation of African Americans, a state holiday.

Although the holiday is typically celebrated on June 19, the New Jersey legislation declares the third Friday in June “Juneteenth Day,” according to Murphy’s office.

“Commemorating this date is just one component of our collective approach to end a generational cycle of pain and injustice that has gone on for far too long. Every Juneteenth, we will celebrate the end of the physical chains which once held Black Americans down,” Murphy said in a statement.

“While more work lies ahead to undo the oppression that remains, Juneteenth is important marker that reminds us of our mission to create a society that enables our Black communities to achieve the full equality which they deserve,” he added.

R&B star SZA, who joined Murphy for the signing of the bill, praised the governor’s actions.

“I am a direct descendant of slavery. My great grandmother, my great-great grandmother, that is my family. It is not even a past stain,” SZA said. “It is a current reality that we are living through the post traumatic slave syndrome, the PTSD, and the effects of that currently, right now. Thank you, Governor Murphy for this.”

June 19 marks the day Gen. Gordon Granger informed formerly enslaved African Americans in Texas of their emancipation in 1865, more than two years after the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Lone Star State was the final state where emancipation was announced.

Since the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis in May, the subsequent conversations around race have led several companies and governments to declare Juneteenth a holiday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) madd the day a holiday for state employees this June, while Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) announced it would be a citywide holiday. Both Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and a group of Democratic senators led by vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) have introduced legislation making it a federal holiday.

Tags Abolitionism in the United States African-American culture Andrew Cuomo Emancipation day John Cornyn Juneteenth Slavery in the United States
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