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Posted on: June 19, 2020

Governor Northam Proclaims June 19, 2020 Juneteenth Freedom Day

Governor of Virginia

June 19, 2020

Virginia — Governor Ralph Northam proclaimed Friday, June 19, 2020 as Juneteenth Freedom Day, calling all Virginians to observance and encouraging them to join in commemorative events throughout the Commonwealth. Earlier this week, performing artist and Virginia native Pharrell Williams joined the Governor as he announced plans to mark Juneteenth as a permanent paid state holiday.

Read Governor Northam’s executive order establishing Juneteenth as a state holiday 

Watch the Governor’s Juneteenth message.

Juneteenth is the oldest known commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, the last of the former Confederate states to abolish slavery, finally received word that the Civil War had ended and the Emancipation Proclamation had freed them nearly two and a half years earlier.

A list of some commemorative events around the Commonwealth can be found in the full news release on the Virginia Governor Newsroom.  


Governor Northam to Make Juneteenth a State Holiday (Tuesday, June 16 Announcement)

Governor Ralph Northam announced on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 that he intends to mark Juneteenth as a permanent paid state holiday, starting by giving state employees a day off this Friday, June 19. Virginia has long marked Juneteenth by issuing a proclamation, but the date has not previously been considered a state holiday.

Juneteenth is the oldest known commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. It marks the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, the last of the former Confederate states to abolish slavery, finally heard that the Civil War had ended, and learned that the Emancipation Proclamation had made them free nearly two years earlier.

This announcement comes days after Governor Northam announced the state will remove the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee located on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia. Earlier this year, Governor Northam also successfully proposed ending a state holiday that celebrated Confederate generals and making Election Day a state holiday in its place.

Read the full news release on the Virginia Governor Newsroom.  

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