Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, was a focus for last night’s late-night talk shows.
Many of the shows featured interviews and sketches based on today’s celebration with calls from hosts and guests calling for states to follow Virginia, New York and Texas and make it a national holiday.
Jimmy Kimmel had Pharrell Williams on his ABC show. Williams, who Deadline revealed earlier today is in talks with Netflix on a Juneteenth musical, was at Governor Northam’s side when he recognized Juneteenth as a holiday in Virginia.
“It’s high time that if we’re going to think about independence and what freedom really looks like, ours was never really acknowledged. Yeah, there’s 47 states that observe it but it’s not a paid holiday, we deserve a paid holiday. This is for my ancestors, who came through a hull of a ship in Virginia 400 years ago, so for me this was incredibly symbolic and necessary,” said on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Happy singer Williams added that he is reaching out to California Governor Gavin Newsom and a number of other states to do the same. “If you really care about your fellow Americans, this is a holiday that you should support, you should be reaching out to your local governors and telling them how important this is for you. It’s American,” he added.
Jimmy Fallon also brought some guests on The Tonight Show to make the same call. He had the Astronomy Club troupe, who created their own Netflix sketch show, on for a virtual Juneteenth virtual BBQ.
Ray Cordova told Fallon that he had his own version of an Arnold Palmer to celebrate, “half lemonade, half ice tea and of a splash of arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor”.
Monique Moses asked the late night host how much he knew about Juneteenth, to which James III replied, “Because we’re getting tired of teaching white folks stuff”. “It’s like every white person’s Goggle broke at the same time,” added Keisha Zollar. Fallon then said he knew all about the commemoration before asking how can I help? Shawtane Bowen replied, “You can start by hiring us”, while Cordova joked, “Would it kill you to get us our own late night talk show?” “I say we make Juneteenth a national holiday,” added Jerah Milligan.
Late Night With Seth Meyers had Amber Ruffin on to answers frequently asked Juneteenth questions. “After slaves had been freed and the Civil War was over, some people in Texas still had slaves and would not let them go, they held on to them for an extra two and a half years. Then they were arrested for brazenly disobeying the law, just kidding, slave owners have never been punished,” she said.
When asked whether if Juneteenth fell on a weekend, would they get Monday off, she replied, “I don’t have the authority to answer that question but, yes, definitely.”
She urged white people not to dress up in costume to celebrate the holiday and made a gag about it becoming another chance for car sales. “Hire black people, defund the police, call out white supremacy, fight the power, be anti-racist, and most importantly stop asking black people how to address systemic racism, I don’t have the time to answer all of your questions, I have to go buy a car.”
Finally, Trevor Noah also brought up Juneteenth on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. After joking that, “Mike Pence doesn’t even know what a cayenne pepper is, you think he’s going to know about black history”, he deferred to correspondent Dulcé Sloan.
“When it came to giving out freedom, white people ran on CP time,” she joked. “There were union states with slaves; imagine living in New Jersey and being a slave, that’s one human rights violation on top of another.”
“If you ask me, we should make Juneteenth a national holiday, because everybody, everybody should celebrate the end of slavery. Also, we get the day off, I don’t want to be stuck in the office in June, Kevin keeps heating up fish in the microwave,” she added.