Pharrell Williams has delivered a powerful speech to announce legislation that would make Juneteenth – the day that celebrates the end of US slavery in 1865 – a state holiday in Virginia.
He was joined by governor Ralph Northam to discuss the law, which is set to pass the Democrat-controlled state legislature.
In his speech, Pharrell opened up on his own ancestors, who were slaves, as well as the state’s role in the slave trade.
“This is a very special moment,” he said. “From this moment on when you look up, you look at the vastness of the night sky, and you see those stars moving up there—know that those stars are our African ancestors dancing.
“They’re dancing in celebration because their lives are finally being acknowledged. And I can’t say it too many times up here today, a paid holiday. It’s not the end of it. It’s merely just the beginning. Their lives matter. Their descendants’ lives matter. Black lives matter in the eyes of the commonwealth.”
He added on Instagram: “A paid holiday is just the start,” Pharrell wrote on Instagram, to stand in solidarity with Black employees and with all Black people.”
The powerful comments come after Pharrell previously described the coronavirus pandemic as “a plague we’re living through at the moment”, while also voicing his view that there won’t be “a new normal” once the pandemic eventually subsides.