Pharrell Williams is continuing to work towards making Juneteenth a nationwide paid holiday.
The 47-year-old artist is partnering with Ellen DeGeneres, Kenya Barris, Van Jones, Global Citizen and Teneo to launch the Juneteenth pledge.
The initiative calls on the private sector to help make Juneteenth a paid holiday in the United States. Business leaders are encouraged to sign the pledge and to support employees' abilities to "learn, reflect and encourage continuous self-development and respect for all cultures," a press release reads. The release also states that international offices are asked to identify a day "to recognize the emancipation of enslaved people in their countries."
According to the press release, adidas, Airbnb, Amblin Partners, Greensill, HP, Participant, the J.M. Smucker Company, Starbucks, and Under Armour all agreed to the pledge in a call last week.
"I love America for its progression, but I'm really in love with the untapped potential of this country," Williams said in statement via the press release. "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."
Earlier this month, the "Happy" singer spoke at a press conference in which Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam announced he will propose legislation to make Juneteenth a paid state holiday. Texas was the first state to do so and other states have been encouraged to follow suit. Governor Andrew Cuomo also declared Juneteenth a paid holiday earlier the month.
Williams spoke about Juneteenth during a recent interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
"I just think it's high time that, if we're going to think about what independence and what freedom really looks like, ours was never really acknowledged," he said at the time. "I mean, yeah, there's 47 states that observe it, but that's not a paid holiday. We deserve a paid holiday."
Juneteenth takes place on June 19 and observes the end of slavery in the U.S.. General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas on this day in 1865 and announced the Civil War's end—putting into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed by President Abraham Lincoln two and a half years prior, and declaring the freedom of enslaved Black people.