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Pharrell Joined Virginia’s Governor In A Speech Calling To Recognize Juneteenth As A State Holiday

As Juneteenth draws nearer, many are calling for the day to be recognized as a national holiday. Pharrell is at the forefront of the movement and was able to use his platform to speak with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and successfully push him to introduce legislation that would commemorate the day as a statewide holiday. In a briefing Tuesday, Pharrell joined Northam to give an inspiring speech about the importance of recognizing the day as a paid holiday.

Pharrell took the podium after Northam proposed a bill that would cement Juneteenth as an observed holiday in Virginia. The singer said the movement marked great progress, but there’s still much work to be done:

“This is a big display of progress, and I’m grateful for Virginia, and us leading today. From this moment on and you look at the vastness of the night sky, and you see those stars moving up there. Know that those stars are African ancestors dancing. They’re dancing because their lives are finally being acknowledged. And I can’t say it enough up here today. A paid holiday is 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. I can’t say that it always has, but finally, we recognize that Black lives absolutely matter. And that’s not political. They’re lives, they’re human beings.”

Pharrell continued to speak directly to the citizens of Virginia and called upon them to join the Black community in celebrating Juneteenth:

“This is what listening looks like. It makes sense that Virginia officially recognizes this holiday in this powerful way. And that’s because it’s been overlooked for so long. This is our chance in Virginia to lead by example. This is our chance to lead, to truly embrace the importance of Juneteenth and treat it as a celebration of freedom that Black people deserve, and African diaspora deserve–worldwide by the way. This is about proper recognition, it’s about observation, and it’s about celebration. This is a chance for our government, our cooperations, and our citizens to all stand in solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters. This year, Juneteenth will look like no other Juneteenth before it.”

The musician also pointed out the importance of Juneteenth over our currently-recognized Independence Day. “July 4th, 1776, not everybody was free and celebrating their independence day,” Pharrell said. “So here’s our day. And if you love us, it will be your day too.”

Watch Pharrell’s empowering speech above.