ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York’s governor signed an executive order Wednesday recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for state employees to commemorate the emancipation of slaves in the U.S.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will propose legislation next year making June 19 a permanent state holiday.

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“I don’t think it has been recognized for the importance that it denotes, and that’s why I’m going to propose legislation to make it an official holiday next year. And that’s why this year I’m doing what I can. What I can do is by executive order. Make it a state holiday for employees and that’s what I’m doing,” Cuomo said.

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Several states already observe Juneteenth. Texas was the first to make it a state holiday, in 1980. Virginia’s governor proposed making Juneteenth a state holiday there earlier this week.

Watch: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Gives Daily Briefing

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“Why not live and learn, right? Society progresses, we change, we evolve. Hopefully we change for the better,” Cuomo said. “But I think this is a period where we’re going, we could see, we could see monumental change. And I want to be a force for change. And I want to help synergize this moment, whether it’s reform on the police department, whether it’s an expanded racial understanding and sensitivity and progress. And if Juneteenth is part of that.”

President Abraham Lincoln first issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring all slaves free in Confederate territory on Sept. 22, 1862, but the news took time to travel.

June 19, 1865, is the date when word of the proclamation reached African Americans in Texas.

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