Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation on Thursday, designating 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 African Americans of the Emancipation Proclamation and their freedom.
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"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."
Murphy went live on Instagram to make the announcement and was joined by R&B singer SZA.
"I am a direct descendant of slavery. My great grandmother, my great-great grandmother, that is my family. It is not even a past stain," SZA said. "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."
Murphy added that more work lies ahead, but "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."