New York declares Juneteenth a holiday for state employees, Cuomo announces

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Juneteenth celebration

Groups come together to celebrate Juneteenth.

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NEW YORK — Juneteenth will be recognized as a holiday for state employees, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the United States in 1865.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will propose legislation next year to make it a permanent state holiday.

Cuomo called it “a day we should all reflect upon” and “a day that is especially relevant in this moment in history.”

Texas was the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday, in 1980.

When asked why it took so long for Juneteenth to be recognized as a holiday in New York, the governor said we “live and learn” and that society progresses.

“Hopefully we change for the better,” he added.

Brooklyn Borough Pres. Eric Adams recently sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, calling for New York City to establish Juneteenth as an official city holiday. “The city shouldn’t wait,” he said.

“The diversity of our city must be reflected in the diversity of our officially recognized holidays. In recent years, New York City has rightfully recognized Lunar New Year, Eid al-Adha, and Eid al-Fitr as new holidays on the City calendar and, in light of the recent groundswell of response to the centuries-old inequality, disparity, and inhumanity that has been endured by Black and Brown people in this country, the time is long past due for this City to formally acknowledge and commemorate the more than 400 years of servitude rendered and the rich cultural traditions contributed by its African-American citizens,” he said in the letter.

The announcement comes following nationwide calls for justice and equality in the wake of the killing of several Black people in recent months, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

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