Pharrell Williams, Kenya Barris launch Juneteenth Pledge campaign

Pharrell Williams is working to make Juneteenth a national paid holiday. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/4cf698223fe6c9e728c8e2864a900545/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Pharrell Williams is working to make Juneteenth a national paid holiday. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

June 29 (UPI) -- Singer Pharrell Williams and TV writer and producer Kenya Barris are teaming up on a new initiative, the Juneteenth Pledge.

The pair, along with TV host Ellen DeGeneres, CNN's Van Jones, advocacy organization Global Citizen and CEO advisory firm Teneo launched the campaign Monday, which calls for Juneteenth to become a national paid holiday.


Juneteenth, short for June Ninteenth, is a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. The date commemorates the day in 1865 that enslaved people in Texas learned of president Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which had outlawed slavery more than two years earlier.

The Juneteenth Pledge calls on companies to make Juneteenth a paid holiday, to identify a relevant day in international offices to recognize the emancipation of enslaved people in their respective countries, and to support employees' ability to learn, reflect and encourage continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.

On Friday, Williams, Barris, DeGeneres, Jones, Global Citizen and Teneo hosted a virtual call with CEOs and top executives from major U.S. corporations. Adidas, AirBnb, Amblin Partners, Greensill, HP, Participant, The J.M. Smucker Company, Starbucks and Under Armour took part in the call and agreed to the pledge.


"I love America for its progression, but I'm really in love with the untapped potential of this country," Williams said. "It was incredible to have powerful minds come together and really listen and be open to celebrating Juneteenth as a paid holiday."

"Honoring Juneteenth as a holiday is not only a way to unite companies in creating positive change, but also a way to unite employees, consumers, communities and hopefully our country in doing the same," Barris added.

Over the coming months, the initiative will support a global campaign to educate and engage companies about the pledge. It will also work to support the effort in Congress to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Earlier this month, Barris announced on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that he is developing a Juneteenth musical with Williams for Netflix. Netflix plans to release the project by next Juneteenth.

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