Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced recently that Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, as a state holiday.
Also called “Emancipation Day” or “Freedom Day”, Juneteenth is celebrated every year on June 19th. This year, state citizens in Virginia will have a paid day off. According to Governor Northam, “This is the right time to elevate this. It’s not just a celebration by some Virginians but rather one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us.”
“Every year we celebrate July 4th, Independence Day … but that freedom we celebrate did not include everyone … it’s time we elevate this, not just a celebration by and for some Virginians, but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us because that’s how important this event is,” Northam said.
During this particularly sensitive time in US history, many states have considered following in Virginia’s footsteps by also naming Juneteenth a state holiday. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice drew criticism recently when he said “all former Presidents would be welcomed in our state…except maybe President Obama.” Many found this to be racially motivated, though Justice later denied that and said it had to do with Obama’s policies during his time in the White House.
Justice is reportedly considering the progressive move to declare Friday a state holiday as a symbol of West Virginia’s dedication to ending racial disparity. In addition, many peaceful marches, protests and gatherings are scheduled around the state to celebrate the end of slavery.