R&B star SZA joined the governor of her native New Jersey online on Thursday (10Sep20) to make history as Juneteenth was officially recognised as a state holiday.
Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law establishing the third Friday of June as Juneteenth Day, in recognition of 19 June, 1865, when the last slaves in Texas were granted emancipation, and hometown hero SZA was on hand virtually to celebrate the motion, admitting the legislation meant so much to her because she is a "direct descendant of slavery."
"That is my family," the African-American singer said, during the livestream event. "It is not even a past stain. It is a current reality that we are living through the post traumatic slave syndrome, the PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and the effects of that currently, right now. Thank you, Governor Murphy for this."
The date has long been viewed as a cultural holiday, but has yet to be adopted by U.S. government officials to make it a nationwide celebration, despite repeated efforts to introduce a bill in Congress.
During SZA's digital sit-down with the Governor, they discussed the ongoing fight for racial equality amid the Black Lives Matter movement, with the musician admitting she had "the privilege of growing up in this bubble" of Maplewood, and although most of her peers were white, she had "a pretty integrated experience."
"I think Maplewood was kind of a petri dish for a prototype of acceptance," the "All the Stars" hitmaker shared. "I feel like Jersey is an open opportunity to bridge those gaps."
"I think Maplewood, (neighbouring town) South Orange, Jersey as a whole just has so much potential to be this amazing resting place for diversity and growth and learning. I'm just grateful to be from here."
SZA is now based in Los Angeles, but has been spending much of her time during the coronavirus pandemic back in the area to visit her mother, who remains a New Jersey resident – and she is happy to be home.
"I love New Jersey," she smiled. "I'm obsessed with being here… I'm not in a rush to get back to California."