Jun 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Virginia Gov. Northam proposes making Juneteenth a paid state holiday

Ralph Northam

Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that he would introduce legislation to make Juneteenth — a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. — a paid, state holiday.

Why it matters: Virginia is home to Richmond, which was once the capital of the Confederacy.

  • 47 states recognize Juneteenth as a normal state holiday, but legislation to declare it a national holiday has repeatedly stalled in Congress, according to the Congressional Research Service.
  • Northam said recognition would start this year with a paid day off on Juneteenth for executive branch employees, and that he would propose legislation to expand the paid state holiday to schools, courts and local governments.
  • "[Juneteenth] matters now because it says to the black community, this is not just your history, this is everyone's shared history, and we recognize it together," Northam said. "This symbol, this holiday, is one step toward reconciliation."

The big picture: Northam's efforts to reduce Confederate iconography in Virginia have accelerated in the weeks of protests that followed the killing of George Floyd.

  • On June 4, Northam announced that the state would remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Go deeper: Juneteenth grows across the U.S.

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