Pharrell Williams, Ellen DeGeneres, Kenya Barris, and CNN’s Van Jones have joined forces to make Juneteenth a paid holiday in the U.S.
The celebs launched the Juneteenth Pledge after holding a virtual call on June 26 with dozens of CEOs and top executives from major corporations across the country.
It included leaders from Adidas, Airbnb, Amblin Partners, Greensill, HP, Participant, The J. M. Smucker Company, Starbucks and Under Armour.
They’re joined by international advocacy organizations Global Citizen and global CEO advisory firm Teneo in their attempt to have June 19 seen as a national holiday, the Hollywood Reporter claimed.
This year, hundreds of CEOs and companies stepped forward to publicly observe, honor and celebrate Juneteenth. This was a step in the right direction. But now we need more to join. I’m calling on all companies to COMMIT & SIGN the #JUNETEENTHPLEDGE today. https://t.co/bHll9tTCZa pic.twitter.com/XKIr9nLOIt
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) June 29, 2020
June 19 marks the official end of slavery in the United States and commemorates the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas found out they were free, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had formally freed them.
Williams said in a statement Monday, “I love America for its progression, but I’m really in love with the untapped potential of this country. It was incredible to have powerful minds come together and really listen and be open to celebrating Juneteenth as a paid holiday. These companies influence which way the wind blows, they influence the economy and this was a very meaningful step in the right direction.”
“Slavery is the recessive scar that all of us share as Americans,” Barris added, “and we will continue to share in the effects of that scar if we don’t actively address the impact it’s had on our country and, most especially, on Black people in this country. Celebrating Juneteenth and all that it represents from an American standpoint not only acknowledges the wounds of our past but helps guide us towards healing.
“Right now, we’re part of a unified movement and there is so much we can accomplish in coming together. CEOs can serve as agents of change by helping to shift us forward. Honouring Juneteenth as a holiday is not only a way to unite companies in creating positive change, but also a way to unite employees, consumers, communities, and hopefully our country, in doing the same.”
Jones shared, “A miracle is beginning to happen. Out of breakdowns, breakthroughs can occur. A continent of common ground has emerged out of an ocean of tears which has 30-40 million white Americans thinking to themselves that racism is real and it’s not over and this system is more broken than they thought. And they want to know what to do.
“Someone killed a Black man and everyone cares. This isn’t just a moment or a phase, this is a time to reset. History is being made. Recognizing this holiday is very symbolic move. Corporate America can help start a conversation that begins on a higher ground.”
DeGeneres continued, “This is a time to be on the right side of history. As a white person, I cannot do enough. My wish is for everyone to join together in this fight.”