Pharrell Talks Efforts to Make Juneteenth Official Holiday on ‘Kimmel’

Pharrell Williams discussed his efforts to make Juneteenth an official holiday during a visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live Thursday.

Earlier in the week, Williams appeared alongside Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam at a press conference in support of making June 19th — or Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery — a holiday in the producer’s native Virginia.

“I just think it’s high time that if we’re gonna think about what independence and what freedom really looks like. Ours was never really acknowledged,” Williams told Kimmel. “There’s 47 states that observe [Juneteenth] but man, it’s not a paid holiday. We deserve a paid holiday.”

Williams continued, “So I called [Northam] and I just said, ‘Man, I just feel like this is important for not only your own legacy but for the legacy of Virginia. And if you would be willing to officiate this and make this a paid holiday, I will travel for the first time out of my house’ [due to COVID-19]… Because this is for not only me, but this is for my ancestors that absolutely came through on the hull of a ship in Virginia 400 years ago, over 401 years ago. So for me, this was incredibly symbolic and it’s necessary.”

Williams noted how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had already signed an executive order making Juneteenth a holiday, and on Juneteenth itself, the N.E.R.D. singer turned to social media and asked governors of their respective states to make June 19th a paid holiday.

“If you really care about your fellow Americans, this is a holiday that you should support,” Williams said. “You should be reaching out to your local governors and telling them how important this is for you. I hate challenges, I hate call to actions, I’ve never had a successful hashtag in my life, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying it’s American. It’s American. If you really believe in it, let’s go. The corporations are all doing it, they all understand. It’s not a red or a blue thing, it’s an American thing. And it’s for us, it is for your black brothers and sisters.”

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