Pharrell Williams Calls on Companies to Make Day Nineteen a Paid Vacation

Corporate executives and celebrities are coming together behind calls to make Juneteenth a paid national holiday.

Juneteenth, or June 19, is a day to commemorate the end of slavery. It marks the date that a Union Army general arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.

“As Americans, we love and appreciate Independence Day, but when it took place on July 4, 1776, the only ones who were free from the British monarchy were our white brothers,” said Grammy-winning singer and producer Pharrell Williams. , on CNBC’s “Squawk”. on the street “on Monday.” The white sisters could not vote. The Native Americans, where we got this land from, weren’t free, and certainly African-Americans, women and men, we didn’t have our freedom. “

Williams, television presenter Ellen DeGeneres, “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris and CNN’s Van Jones are working with Global Citizen and consulting firm Teneo to help push companies and state governments to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday.

“For us, we feel like the day we were released, everyone was released,” Williams said. “So why not make it a paid holiday? We deserve it, you know?”

He emphasized that the move to make June 15 a holiday is not to detract from the Fourth of July, but to create a holiday “that is inclusive for everyone.”

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, which have called for reform following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, momentum is building to support this day as a national holiday. Earlier this month, several companies recognized it as a paid holiday or honored the day with a moment of silence, including Adobe, Tesla, Fiat Chrysler, Target, and Twitter.

Williams has been in talks with corporations and lawmakers to create an American holiday, as well as international holidays to celebrate the emancipation of enslaved people around the world.

The Juneteenth promise has already been backed by companies like Adidas, Airbnb, HP, JM Smucker Company, Starbucks, and Under Armor.

Working with companies is an important part of the process, Williams said.

“We are a nation, a country, but we operate as a company,” he said.

Williams noted that corporations understand that their consumer bases not only have the ability to vote, but also with their wallets.

“The consumer base has purchasing power,” he said. “When you have purchasing power, you have a voice. That has been the greatest voice for African Americans. We never really had a voice. We never had a market share.”