Usher has an idea how we as a country can take a step toward healing racial tension: Make Juneteenth a national holiday.
The R&B singer, 41, wrote an essay for The Washington Post calling for this to happen, saying he viewed it as a "duty" to push for the day—which marks the end of slavery in the U.S. 155 years ago—to be recognized this way.
"As an artist, it is my duty to reflect the trying times in which we live," he wrote. "My heart is shattered by the ongoing injustices in this country, incited by its long history of racism that has led to deadly outcomes for too many of our people. This country must change. And it must change quickly."
Usher's plea for Juneteenth to be made a national holiday coincides with the idea amassing bipartisan support in Congress with to a bill proposed by senators John Cornyn, a Republican, and Ed Markey, a Democrat.
Usher said, "Congress must pass this bill immediately," and reiterated that it "should be a national holiday observed by all Americans."
At the state level, Juneteenth is already recognized as a ceremonial day or holiday in 47 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Hawaii and the Dakotas are the only states remaining as holdouts.
On top of that, governors of both Virginia and New York proposed this month to make Juneteenth a paid holiday for state employees. Major companies have also begun recognizing it as a paid company holiday, too.
"As we celebrate today, let’s stay open to possibility," added Usher. "Let’s support black-owned businesses today and every day. Let’s uplift our resilient history. Let’s honor our people. Happy Juneteenth, America."