New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will sign an executive order Wednesday to make Juneteenth a holiday for New York State employees and will propose legislation to commemorate the day as an official state holiday next year.
During his daily press conference, Cuomo recognized that Friday, June 19 is Juneteenth, the day “commemorating the emancipation of slavery in the United States.”
“It is a day that we should all reflect upon,” Cuomo said. “It is a day that is especially relevant in this moment in history.”
Cuomo announced that he would sign an executive order “today, recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees.”
“I will be proposing legislation next year to make it an official state holiday,” Cuomo added.
Cuomo’s announcement comes after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he plans to also make Juneteenth an official holiday in his state, which was once the capital of the Confederacy.
Juneteenth — first made a state holiday by Texas in 1980 — commemorates June 19, 1865, when news finally reached African Americans in Texas that President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves living in Confederate states two years earlier. When Union soldiers arrived in Galveston to bring the news that slavery had been abolished, former slaves celebrated.
President Trump announced last week that he has rescheduled a campaign rally that was planned in Tulsa, Okla., on Juneteenth. The announcement of the rally had sparked an outcry because Tulsa was the site of one of the worst instances of racial violence in U.S. history in 1921, when hundreds of African Americans were massacred by a white mob that burned black-owned businesses and homes.
Cuomo and Northam’s move to make Juneteenth a holiday for state employees comes amid turmoil across the nation and around the world over the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody on May 25 after a Minneapolis officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes in moments captured on cellphone footage.
Floyd’s death has sparked weeks of protests and outrage over issues of racism and police brutality and prompted renewed calls for the removal of Confederate memorials across the country.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.