New York declares Juneteenth a holiday for state employees

New York declares Juneteenth a holiday for state employees
Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds his daily coronavirus briefing in Albany Tuesday. (Source: WWNY)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s governor signed an executive order Wednesday recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for state employees to commemorate the emancipation of slaves in the U.S.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will propose legislation next year making June 19 a permanent state holiday.

"It is a day we should all reflect upon. It is a day that is especially relevant in this moment in history," Cuomo said.

Several states already observe Juneteenth. Texas was the first to make it a state holiday, in 1980. Virginia's governor proposed making Juneteenth a state holiday there earlier this week.

President Abraham Lincoln first issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring all slaves free in Confederate territory on Sept. 22, 1862, but the news took time to travel.

June 19, 1865, is the date when word of the proclamation reached African Americans in Texas.

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