The NFL has announced that this year they will observe June 19, also known as Juneteenth, as a company holiday and all of the league’s offices will be closed. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to the teams today (June 12).
“This year, as we work together as a family and in our communities to combat the racial injustices that remain deeply rooted into the fabric of our society, the NFL will observe Juneteenth on Friday, June 19th as a recognized holiday and our league offices will be closed,” Goodell said in a statement. “It is a day to reflect on our past, but more importantly, consider how each one of us can continue to show up and band together to work toward a better future.”
Juneteenth is celebrated as the end of slavery in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 that the last remaining slaves were officially freed.
“The power of this historical feat in our country’s blemished history is felt each year, but there is no question that the magnitude of this event weighs even more heavily today in the current climate,” Goodell continued in his statement. “Juneteenth not only marks the end of slavery in the United States, but it also symbolizes freedom — a freedom that was delayed, and brutally resisted; and though decades of progress followed, a freedom for which we must continue to fight.”
Nike announced Thursday (June 11) that their company would recognize Juneteenth as an annual paid holiday for all of its US employees. They also announced that they will launch a diversity education program.
“Education can play an important role in the fight against systemic racism and bigotry,” the memo said. “So, from June 19 to July 4, we will offer programming and learning opportunities available to all employees on topics specific to racial inequality,” CEO John Donahoe wrote in an internal memo. “Our expectation is that each of us use this time to continue to educate ourselves and challenge our perspectives and learn. I know that is what I intend to do.”
See Goodell’s full statement below.