Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on Wednesday marking Juneteenth, which is this Friday, a holiday for state employees. He also says he will be pushing legislation to make June 19 a state holiday next year.

“It is a day that we should all reflect upon,” Cuomo said. “It’s a day that’s especially relevant in this moment in history.”

What You Need To Know

  • Governor Cuomo signed an executive order to make Juneteenth a holiday for state employees
  • Cuomo will push legislation to make it a state holiday next year
  • Juneteenth celebrates June 19 as the day slaves were emancipated in the United States

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took place in 1863, but it took time for this news to travel. 

On June 19, 1865, a Union Army general rode into Texas with word of the order, helping to set free one of the last groups of enslaved people.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19 as the day slaves were officially emancipated in the U.S.

With protests sweeping the nation shining a spotlight on racial injustice still prevalent in today’s society, advocates like Stanley Fritz of Citizen Action say now is the time to make this day a state holiday.

“It literally is July 4 for black people,” Fritz, the state political director of Citizen Action New York, explained. “It literally is. White folks got their political freedom, or whatever you want to call it, in America on July 4 all those years ago. They were celebrating under the guise of black servitude.”

Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman already sponsors a bill in the Legislature to make Juneteenth an official state holiday.

“Acknowledging your history is a way of moving forward and not repeating it,” Hyndman said. “Have this a part of history as American history, that this is how blacks were treated and this is why we’re having the problems we do today because we don’t discuss history, we don’t discuss the realities of history and the long systemic institution of slavery still has its effects 401 years later. We have a lot of work to do and we have to do it together.”

Juneteenth is already a state holiday in Texas and this year, companies like Nike and Target are making this Friday a holiday as well.