FAIRFAX, Va. (WDVM) — Many across the nation are celebrating their Black roots Friday on Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.

In Virginia this week, Governor Ralph Northam was joined by musician Pharrell Williams, a born and raised Virginian. The two together shared the importance of June 19 in history. “July 4th, 1776 not everyone was free and celebrating their independence day. Here’s our day and if you love us it will be your day too,” Williams said.

June 19, known as Juneteenth, marks the date the Union Army announced that all slaves in Texas were free.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation technically freed slaves about two years earlier, Juneteenth is widely celebrated as the end of slavery and the freedom, liberation and independence for African Americans.

Sean Perryman, President of Fairfax County NAACP said, “I think we need to focus on policy and making substantive changes, and not slowing up because they’ve given us these symbolic changes, but I’m happy that this is being recognized.”

African Americans take this day to appreciate our heritage, our uniqueness, and our Blackness.
Northam is supporting legislation to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday in the Commonwealth, and said he will continue to work with the General Assembly to make this permanent.

Northam said, “To Black communities, this is just not your history this is everyone shared history and we recognize it together.”

Many asked how they can celebrate June 19, and to that Perryman said events in Northern Virginia will continue through the weekend.

“There is a bike rally happening [Saturday] in Herndon. That is one way people can get together and still socially distance and support good causes like the NAACP along with events going on throughout the Northern Virginia area, where it really focuses on the history of the movement and what this means when we talk about liberation,” said Perryman.

For more ways to celebrate African American history more details are provided in the link below.