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Virginia lawmakers vote to make Juneteenth a state holiday

FILE: Protesters chant as they march after a Juneteenth rally at the Brooklyn Museum, Friday, June 19, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free 155 years ago. Now, with support growing for the racial justice movement, 2020 may be remembered as the year the holiday reached a new level of recognition. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
FILE: Protesters chant as they march after a Juneteenth rally at the Brooklyn Museum, Friday, June 19, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free 155 years ago. Now, with support growing for the racial justice movement, 2020 may be remembered as the year the holiday reached a new level of recognition. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Juneteenth has officially become a state holiday after lawmakers unanimously approved legislation during the Virginia General Assembly special session.

Juneteenth marks the day news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, which was the last state to abolish slavery.

The companion bills were introduced by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Richmond.

Gov. Ralph Northam signed the legislation on Oct. 13.

Northam proposed making Juneteenth a state holiday in June during a press conference that included musician and Virginia native Pharrell Williams.

Northam signed an executive order that gave executive branch employees and state colleges the day off.