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New Jersey governor declares Juneteenth a public holiday

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy designated June 19 as an annual day for New Jerseyans to celebrate the final abolition of slavery in the United States.
Civil rights icon Angela Davis pumps her fist in solidarity during a Juneteenth protest against police brutality as longshoremen shut down the Port of Oakland and 28 other ports along the west coast, on June 19, 2020, in Oakland, Calif.Yalonda M. James / Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday designated June 19, or Juneteenth, as a state and public holiday in the Garden State.

Juneteenth celebrates the final abolition of slavery in the United States: June 19, 1865, when the last few enslaved people in the country were informed of their liberty in Galveston, Texas.

"Every Juneteenth, we will celebrate the end of the physical chains which once held Black Americans down," Murphy said in a press release.

Murphy signed the bill on Sept. 10 alongside first lady Tammy Murphy in a socially distant video chat with music megastar SZA, who grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey.

"I'm signing it, SZA," Murphy said.

"I can hear it! I can hear the pen to the paper," the smiling star said.

SZA said she is a direct descendent of formerly enslaved people: "That's my family."

“Juneteenth has always been an important day in the African American community," New Jersey Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who is Black, said in a press release.

"It represents a day of true liberation of Black people from slavery in America. It’s also a reminder that centuries later, not all of us are treated equally and that freedom and democracy are not a given. Our fight for civil rights and freedom from discrimination and oppression continues today,” she said.

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