With June nineteenth, or Juneteenth, quickly approaching, many have been demanding that its importance and significance in American history be recognized. For those who don’t know, Juneteenth is a day that celebrates the end of slavery, tracing back to June 19, 1865 when the last slaves in Texas were declared free. It has since become a widely celebrated occasion, brimming with emotion and historical significance, though it has yet to be recognized as a national holiday.Pharrell Williams has been campaigning to change that, and today he comes one step closer to seeing his goal become reality. Joined by Gov. Ralph Northam in Richmond, Va, Pharrell made the announcement that Virginia is moving to make Juneteenth a state–and paid– holiday. “Juneteenth deserves the same level of recognition and celebration [as Independence Day],” says Williams, speaking during a moving speech. “July 4, 1776, not everybody was free and celebrating their Independence Day. So here’s our day. And if you love us, it will be your day too.”

“Setting a new standard and leading how states observe Juneteenth is important,” continues Williams. “It implies there will be others to follow. And there will be.” For now, the Juneteenth holiday will be reserved for executive branch employees, but Governor Northam is moving to have it implemented within schools, courts, and local government offices. It’s a major step in recognizing the lives lost to slavery, and the unjust revisionism that saw their names scrubbed from the history books. Now, thanks to Pharrell Williams, Governor Northam, and his administration, their memories will be honored the way they deserve to be.