New York Gov. Cuomo makes Juneteenth official state holiday

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed legislation officially making Juneteenth, a day commemorating the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States, a New York state holiday.

The new law celebrates Juneteenth, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. Earlier this year, Cuomo issued an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for New York State employees.

"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," the governor 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."

The Democrat had used an executive order to make Juneteenth a paid holiday for state employees this year. The state Legislature had passed a bill in July to make it a state holiday.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. But not everyone heard about it right away. It wasn't until June 19th, 1865, that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, found out about it from Union army personnel, making them among the last to know about their freedom.

In September, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation, designating the third Friday in June as a state and public holiday, known as Juneteenth Day.

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