Governor Andrew Cuomo has made Juneteenth, June 19th, an official state holiday, starting in 2021.
Juneteenth recognizes June 19th, 1865, when a group of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas discovered they were actually free almost three years after the Emancipation Proclamation passed.
"This new public holiday will serve as a day to recognize the achievements of the Black community, while also providing an important opportunity for self-reflection on the systemic injustices that our society still faces today," Cuomo said in a statement.
On June 17th of this year, Cuomo made Juneteenth a holiday for state employees. Two days later, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio made Juneteenth a city and school holiday for 2021, noting that it should become a moment for "truth telling, a day for examination and shining a light. It's a holiday in fact that million and millions of Americans don't know exists. But now as it comes to the fore, it's perfect for change, for transformation."
The state legislation was sponsored by State Senator Kevin Parker of Brooklyn and Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman of Queens.
De Blasio also announced in June that First Lady Chirlane McCray would co-lead a racial justice and reconciliation commission, which will include considering whether to remove a Thomas Jefferson statue from the City Council's chambers or rename Gracie Mansion. McCray said at the time she had just learned that Archibald Gracie, the shipping merchant whose home is the mayoral residence, had three slaves.
"Gracie's name lives on as a success story," McCray said. "His wealth and prominence relied on the export of goods, like cotton, tobacco, and indigo – all produced with the labor of people who are enslaved. The lives and the voices of Sarah, Abraham, and Charles have been lost to history."