Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation on Sept. 10, which designates the third Friday in June as a state and public holiday, known as Juneteenth Day.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved people of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and their freedom.
“It gives me great pride to celebrate emancipation and New Jersey’s great diversity by designating Juneteenth as an official State holiday,” Murphy said. “Commemorating this date is just one component of our collective approach to end a generational cycle of pain and injustice that has gone on for far too long. Every Juneteenth, we will celebrate the end of the physical chains which once held Black Americans down. While more work lies ahead to undo the oppression that remains, Juneteenth is an important marker that reminds us of our mission to create a society that enables our Black communities to achieve the full equality which they deserve.”
‘I am a direct descendant of slavery’
Murphy signed the legislation while live-streaming on Instagram Live with R&B and hip-hop recording artist SZA, who was raised in Maplewood, NJ.
“I am a direct descendant of slavery,” she said. “My great grandmother, my great-great grandmother, that is my family. It is not even a past stain. It is a current reality that we are living through the post traumatic slave syndrome, the PTSD, and the effects of that currently, right now. Thank you, Governor Murphy for this.”
The measure was sponsored by state Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson); Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland); Senator Joe Cryan (D-Union); and Senator Ronald Rice (D-Essex).
“We have a lot to learn from our history, and unfortunately the delay in ending slavery and the lasting impact the institution has on our country is not taught enough,” Cunningham said. “We want everyone to remember that Juneteenth is part of the history of all Americans. Hopefully, through this law, as well as deeper education and a more honest review of our nation’s history, more New Jerseyans can realize the significance of Juneteenth and understand the systemic issues that have continued to plague our country since that day in 1865.”
Currently, a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday has been introduced by a group of senators, including California Senator Kamala Harris and Texas Senator John Cornyn.
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