Pharrell Williams on How He Got Virginia to Make Juneteenth an Official State Holiday (Video)

“For me, this was incredibly symbolic, and it’s necessary,” Williams says

Last Updated: June 20, 2020 @ 1:15 PM

Pharrell Williams came on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Thursday night with some good news — the “Happy” singer has convinced the state of Virginia to make Juneteenth an official state holiday.

“I just think its high time that if we’re gonna think about what independence and what freedom really looks like — ours was never really acknowledged,” Williams told Kimmel over video chat. “Yeah, there are 47 states that observe it, but it’s not a paid holiday. We deserve a paid holiday.”

On Tuesday, Williams, who grew up in Virginia Beach, joined Gov. Ralph Northam in a press conference, after having spoken with state officials over the weekend about formally recognizing the holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived at Galveston, Texas, and delivered the news that all enslaved people in the state were free. It came two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“I called them and said, ‘Man, this is important for not only your own legacy, but the legacy of Virginia,” Williams continued. “If you would be willing to officiate this and make this a paid holiday, I will travel for the first time out of my house. My wife is not playing no games with this COVID-19. As you know we have 600 children, we can’t afford to play any games. But this is serious because this is for not only me but for my ancestors that absolutely came through on the hull of a ship in Virginia over 400 years ago. So for me, this was incredibly symbolic, and it’s necessary.”

Watch the video above.

Juneteenth is day of celebration and education. Learn more about the holiday here and check out the various programming dedicated to it.

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