Netflix is in talks with Pharrell Williams and BlackAF creator Kenya Barris for a Juneteenth musical.
June 19, 1865, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States when the last slaves were freed in Texas. That move came more than two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation. The holiday originates in Galveston, Texas, where Juneteenth celebrations kick off all over the city.
According to Deadline’s report, the project is in its early stages. Both Barris and Williams are working up a plan for the project to hammer out storyline details. The project is separate from the 2018 live musical the pair has already announced.
Williams’ home state of Virginia has declared Juneteenth a paid state holiday for the first time.
Pharrell Williams called the move a chance for the government to “stand in solidarity with their African American brothers and sisters.” Virginia joins New York and Texas as states recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday. There are now calls going up to make Juneteenth a federally recognized holiday. Congress has not declared a new national holiday since the creation of MLK Jr. Day.
Kenya Barris is also a vocal proponent of making Juneteenth a national holiday. His series BlackAF featured a Juneteenth party and helped explain the significance of the date to African Americans. His ABC comedy Black-ish featured an episode dedicated to the holiday. The episode was rebroadcast during Blackout Tuesday. Barris says it’s one of the most meaningful things he’s worked on over the years.
Several major companies are recognizing the holiday for their employees. Spotify, Twitter, and more have announced support for recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday. More attention is coming to the holiday as much of America experiences protests. Police brutality and the killing of black men and women are drawing questions about systemic racism in America.