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.
“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,” said Cuomo in a statement.
The governor 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.