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Pharrell backs proposal for Juneteenth as Virginia state holiday in powerful speech

The day celebrates the end of US slavery in 1865

Pharrell has backed proprosals for Juneteenth to be recognised as an official Virginia state holiday in a powerful speech.

The US rapper, record producer and designer returned to his home state of Viriginia this week to speak alongside Governor Ralph Northam, about Juneteenth. Juneteenth lands this week on Friday (19th), and celebrates the end of US slavery in 1865.

At a press conference yesterday, Northam and Pharrell spoke in Richmond (the former capital of the Confederacy and Virginia's current state capital), where Gov. Northam explained why the state would now legally acknowledge the holiday.

"Juneteenth matters now because it says to the black community, this is not just your history, this is everyone’s shared history, and we recognize it together," Gov. Northam said. "This symbol, this holiday, is one step toward reconciliation." Virginia joins over 40 other states who recognise Juneteenth as an official holiday, and Northam has proposed legislation to extend the holiday, to schools and non-state employees.

Pharrell said the recognition of Juneteenth was a great display of progress in the state. “This is a big display of progress and I am grateful for Virginia for leading the way,” Pharrell told the press conference. “From this moment on, when you look at the vastness of the night sky, and you see those stars moving up there, know that those stars are our African ancestors dancing. They are dancing in celebration because their lives are acknowledged.”

Watch the full clip from the press conference below.