Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared Juneteenth as official holiday in the New York City.
While making the declaration on Wednesday October 14, 2020, Cuomo explained that the holiday is aimed at recognizing the achievements of the Black community.
He added that it will provide an important opportunity for self-reflection on the systemic injustices that our society still faces today.
“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,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when slaves in Texas finally got word of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 1863.
On June 19, 1865, Union Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans that the Civil War had come to an end and that they had been freed by Lincoln’s proclamation.
Earlier this year, Cuomo issued an executive order earlier recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for New York State employees following civil unrest and protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
The law enacted Wednesday adds Juneteenth to the official state holiday calendar.
“Finally, we are beginning to acknowledge the historic oppression and injustices that African Americans have endured,” New York State Sen. Kevin Parker said.
“This holiday is the first step in reconciliation and healing that our great state needs in order to ensure equity for all people. Thank you Governor for your support and advocacy,” he added.
Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman (D-Queens), who sponsored a Juneteenth bill before the current push, said the holiday “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 continue to be told in our great state of New York,” she added.
Juneteenth, commemorating the emancipation of slaves in the U.S., is officially a public holiday in the State of New York.