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Cuomo signs legislation declaring Juneteenth an official holiday in New York

Cuomo signs legislation declaring Juneteenth an official holiday in New York
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New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCuomo says New York can begin to loosen restrictions: 'Don't get cocky with COVID' Disjointed vaccine distribution poses early test for Biden Three National Guardsmen killed after military helicopter crash in New York MORE (D) signed legislation this week that declares Juneteenth an official public holiday in his state.

"I am incredibly proud to sign into law this legislation declaring Juneteenth an official holiday in New York State, a day which commemorates the end to slavery in the United States," Cuomo said in a statement on Wednesday. 

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"This new public holiday will serve as a day to recognize the achievements of the Black community, while also providing an important opportunity for self-reflection on the systemic injustices that our society still faces today,” the governor continued. 

New York state Sen. Kevin Parker (D) praised the move in a statement this week as “a first step in reconciliation and healing that our great state needs in order to ensure equity for all people,” adding, “Finally, we are beginning to acknowledge the historic oppression and injustices that African-Americans have endured.”

"Juneteenth serves as a piece of history towards Black liberation in this country. I am glad to serve along with my colleagues in government and Governor Cuomo, as a part of ensuring these important parts of Black American history will continued to be told in our great state of New York," Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D) also said Wednesday.

Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the abolishment of slavery. The holiday is celebrated annually on June 19 and has been observed for more than 150 years. The history of the day, which is not recognized as a federal holiday, is not taught in many schools. 

The move by Cuomo comes as a number of states across the country have designated the day a state holiday in recent months amid widespread protests against racism and police brutality in the nation following the police killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans.

Cuomo also previously signed an executive order in June making the day a holiday for state employees, while also advancing legislation to have the day designated a state holiday for next year.

Back in June, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcConnell: Power-sharing deal can proceed after Manchin, Sinema back filibuster Manchin vows that he won't vote to kill filibuster 'under any condition' Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial MORE (R-Texas) introduced a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, saying then that the day is “an opportunity to reflect on our history, the mistakes we have made, but yet how far we’ve come in the fight for equality, and a reminder of just how far we still have to go.”

However, the bill hit a roadblock the following month due to an internal Senate GOP squabble after Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senators call for commission to investigate Capitol attack Wisconsin Democrats make ad buy calling on Johnson to resign Efforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress MORE (R-Wis.) said then that he didn’t want another paid federal holiday to be added to the calendar.

At the time, Johnson, a budget hawk, said another paid federal holiday would have to be scrapped in order for Juneteenth to be placed on the government’s list of official holidays.