Pharrell announced alongside Virginia Governor Ralph Northam that Juneteenth (June 19), the day celebrating the end of American slavery, will become a paid holiday for state employees during a press conference Tuesday (June 16).
The Virginia Beach native and multihyphenate musician explained the history of Virginia as tied to slavery, where ships first brought kidnapped and enslaved Africans, some of which Pharrell pointed out included his own ancestors, to America 400 years ago. In a phone conversation with Governor Northam last weekend, the 47-year-old superstar discussed making Juneteenth a paid holiday to properly commemorate the end of slavery that began right there in the state, cementing this year's holiday as one of proper recognition, observation and celebration of freedom for Black Americans.
"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," he said at the podium. "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."