Juneteenth Is Now An Official NYS Public Holiday

Unite NY Rally on Juneteenth 2020. (Photo: Adrian Childress/Bklyner)

NEW YORK – Juneteenth is now an official public holiday in New York State after Governor Cuomo signed it into legislation yesterday. In June, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Juneteenth would be an official city and school holiday next year.

Juneteenth takes place on June 19th and is also referred to as Freedom or Liberation Day. It is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, a day that celebrates the achievements of Black Americans.

This year, there were tons of protests, marches, rallies, vigil happening all throughout the day to celebrate, show solidarity, and fight for equal rights and treatment of Black people. Thousands of people wore their face masks and marched across the Brooklyn Bridge. Others gathered outside the Brooklyn Museum for music and dance sessions.

“I am incredibly proud to sign into law this legislation declaring Juneteenth an official holiday in New York State, a day which commemorates the end to slavery in the United States,” Cuomo said. “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.”

On Juneteenth 2020. (Photo: Adrian Childress/Bklyner)

“Juneteenth is a celebration of our collective liberation, and it’s fitting that the State has declared it an official holiday. This is a bittersweet moment,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told Bklyner. “The death of George Floyd over the summer traumatized so many Black and Brown people in this country, but it also catalyzed a groundswell of activism across the world not seen since the Civil Rights movement. The road ahead of us is long, but acknowledging this important occasion is a necessary step in our ongoing march to make Black Lives Matter.”

Council Member Farah Louis agrees.

“When we look through the pages of American history, Black stories and voices have been marginalized. Juneteenth commemorates such a pivotal moment ⁠— freedom for African-Americans— that is worthy of public recognition and designation as a holiday,” Louis said. “We must utilize this day to reflect, rebuild, and revitalize communities throughout New York State. We can only achieve equality and justice through education and awareness of the racism, prejudice, as well as the discrimination that our neighborhoods have endured for centuries.”

According to State Senator Kevin Parker, it is about time Juneteenth was recognized.

Finally, we are beginning to acknowledge the historic oppression and injustices that African-Americans have endured,” he said. “This holiday is the first step in reconciliation and healing that our great state needs in order to ensure equity for all people. Thank you, Governor, for your support and advocacy.”

“I thank Governor Cuomo for formally recognizing Juneteenth as a statewide public holiday. This important designation will educate future generations on the history of Black Americans and celebrates the end of slavery in our country,” Assembly Member Rodnesye Bichotte told Bklyner. “The fact that states and private corporations have recognized Juneteenth ahead of our federal government also speaks volumes about where we are as a nation today. I am grateful that our state leadership recognizes the significance of this day.”

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Zainab Iqbal

Zainab is a staff reporter at Bklyner who sometimes writes poetry in her free time || zainab@bklyner.com

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