TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation that makes Juneteenth a state holiday.

The Democratic governor signed the measure during an online ceremony Thursday night featuring Maplewood-raised singer SZA.

Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865, when word reached enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and they were free. The legislation Murphy signed makes the third Friday in June a holiday.

The measure was approved in July by the state legislature amid worldwide protests and rallies for racial justice stemming from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, who was black, died after a white police officer held him down with a knee on his neck.

During the bill signing, which was shown in an online conference video, SZA said that she was a direct descendant of slavery.

"My great-grandmother, my great-great-grandmother, that's my family. So I feel it's not even like a past stain. It's a current reality that we are living through the post-traumatic slave syndrome and the PTSD and the effects of that currently, right now. And that's not even a past tense. So thank you for acknowledging that, so much," she said.

Hawaii and the Dakotas are the only states that do not recognize Juneteenth but New Jersey joins New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia as the only states that have made it a paid state holiday.

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