Grammy winning artist and producer, Pharrell Williams, officially helped to declare Juneteenth a holiday in his home state of Virginia.
The multi-talented musician joined Virigina Gov. Ralph Northam in a press conference on Tuesday (June 16) to confirm the news that June 19 would be recognized as a state holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
“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,” the Virigina Beach native said. “They’re dancing in celebration because their lives are finally being acknowledged.”
The “Happy” singer continued his speech to say that Black people have a chance to lead by example and embrace the significance of Juneteenth and celebrate the holiday as a moment of freedom that Black people truly deserve.
"This is about proper recognition," Williams said. "This is the chance for our government, our corporations and our citizens to all stand in solidarity with their African-American brothers and sisters."
The 47-year-old has asked Virginia-based businesses and corporations to give their employees a paid day off after Gov. Northam announced that all state employees in the executive branch will be given a paid day off on Juneteenth.
"There is no turning back," he added. "We are only moving one direction now: forward."
Watch the full press conference below:
(Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)