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Cuomo to propose making Juneteenth a New York state holiday

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Governor Andrew Cuomo holds daily press briefing at the foot of Mario Cuomo Bridge in Tarrytown, New York, June 15, 2020.

Lev Radin | Pacific Press | LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said he will sign an executive order that would make Juneteenth a holiday for state employees, also saying that he will “propose legislation” to make it a state holiday for next year. 

“Friday is Juneteenth. It commemorates the emancipation of slavery in the United States. It is a day that we should all reflect upon. It’s a day that’s especially relevant in this moment and history,” Cuomo said during a press briefing with reporters.

“I’m going to sign an executive order today,” he added, “recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees and I’m going to propose legislation for next year making it an official state holiday.”

Juneteenth, a combination of the words June and nineteenth, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, which occurred on June 19, 1865 when slaves learned of their emancipation.  

New York is just the latest state to move to make the day a formal holiday. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he’s proposing to make Juneteenth an official holiday in the state.

“It’s time we elevate this,” Northam said on Tuesday. “Not just a celebration by and for some Virginians but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us.”

Several companies like the NFL and Nike have also indicated they would make Juneteenth this year a paid holiday for employees. 

Cuomo’s announcement comes after weeks of widespread protests over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day. 

Floyd, 46, who was unarmed, was asphyxiated after being subdued during an investigation into whether he had used a counterfeit $20 bill. 

Now-fired officer Derek Chauvin, 44, has been charged with second-degree murder among other charges, while three other officers involved have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

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