Academy Award-winning musician and Virginia Beach native Pharrell joined Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in declaring Juneteenth as a state holiday last Tuesday. 

According to Rolling Stone, Pharrell made an appearance on The
Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon where he shared that the collaboration between himself and Northam grew out of an understanding of how momentous the day is for the people of Virginia and Black people nationally.  

“So I called [Northam] and I just said, ‘Man, I just feel like this is important for not only your own legacy but for the legacy of Virginia,'" he said. "'And if you would be willing to officiate this and make this a paid holiday, I will travel for the first time out of my house.’ … Because this is for not only me, but this is for my ancestors that absolutely came through on the hull of a ship in Virginia 400 years ago, over 401 years ago. So for me, this was incredibly symbolic and it’s necessary."

Virginia became the second state to adopt the holiday after Texas declared Juneteenth a national holiday in 1980, Yahoo News reports. The vast majority of states, 47 in total, have previously designated Juneteenth as an “observance,” which means it is commemorated but not as a federally supported holiday. 

Virginia’s declaration, however, means June 19 will be a paid day off for state employees. Legally, private companies aren’t required to give employees the day off, but the motion could encourage organizations to support their workers in observing the holiday. According to the Employment Law Handbook, Massachusetts and Rhode Island would be the only states that could mandate that private companies pay employees for the day off or pay employees extra if they decide to work.  

Last Tuesday, Pharrell shared that he would be endorsing Juneteenth with Northam and that his fight wouldn’t stop there.