In the midst of a national reckoning about systemic racism and the continued killing of Black and brown men and women at the hands of police, the country paused to celebrate Juneteenth on Friday (June 19). The holiday recalls the end of slavery in the U.S., marking the day (June 19, 1865) when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that enslaved people were free; the news came two-and-a-half years after Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.
Though the holiday is 155-years-old and has been celebrated for more than a century by African-Americans, the focus on racial injustice spurred by the protests in every state over the killing of George Floyd has put a spotlight on the celebration, with a number of prominent artists, most notably Pharrell Williams, pushing to make it an official national holiday.
Williams, in fact spent much of Thursday (June 18) posting pleas to the nation’s governors to make Juneteenth a paid holiday for state employees and thanking those public officials who’ve heeded the call; news also emerged on Friday that Pharrell and black-ish creator Kenya Barris are in talks to develop a Netflix musical inspired by Juneteenth.
A wide variety of artists joined Williams in honoring the holiday, including Lionel Richie, Big Boi, Fantasia, Ryan Seacrest, Taylor Swift, the estates of Michael Jackson and Jimi Hendrix, as well as Bette Midler, Carole King, Bon Iver and Paramore’s Hayley Williams.
Check out their tweets below.
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) June 19, 2020
Happy JuneTeenth pic.twitter.com/bKL0AVOTJC
— Fantasia • #SketchbookOutNow (@TasiasWord) June 19, 2020
This #Juneteenth, it’s important more than ever for us to know and commemorate this day in history. As we celebrate the end of slavery in the United States, let’s continue to reflect, learn, and show our support for Black communities every day. https://t.co/w1dLFcapfS pic.twitter.com/yjX5GaqKwY
— Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) June 19, 2020
— Lionel Richie (@LionelRichie) June 19, 2020
Personally, I’ve made the decision to give all of my employees June 19th off in honor of Freedom Day from now on, and to continue to educate myself on the history that brought us to this present moment.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 19, 2020
After more than 150 yrs, it was announced today that 4 US senators – Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Tina Smith and Ed Markey – are introducing a bill to make Juneteenth a national holiday! Read Usher’s op-ed piece for this important day in The Washington Post:https://t.co/XDX2znXlxd pic.twitter.com/Qo8IOqvZHN
— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) June 19, 2020
It’s Juneteenth, an extraordinary day for African-Americans even during these terrible times. I suspect a lot of Americans were unaware of the significance of this day, but not anymore! And that’s a good thing.
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) June 19, 2020
— Bon Iver (@boniver) June 19, 2020
JUNETEENTH. Commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, Juneteenth is observed on June 19. The celebration originated in Texas. Once it was announced that the Civil War was officially over and all slaves… https://t.co/79r1vRgxT8
— Arrested Development (@ADtheBand) June 19, 2020
— Carole King (@Carole_King) June 19, 2020
— Jimi Hendrix (@JimiHendrix) June 19, 2020
happy june. TEENTH.
Nashville is doing a really good job keeping the pressure on the powers that be, here.
— hayley from Paramore (@yelyahwilliams) June 19, 2020