The NFL will observe Juneteenth as a holiday and close all its offices for the day, joining a growing number of companies recognizing the day as an important celebration of African-American pride and racial equality. June 19 marks the date that the Emancipation Proclamation was read to the last group of newly freed slaves in 1865 in Texas, the last Confederate state. “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,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a memo to all teams. “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.”
The NFL has taken several steps to address racial inequality in the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality and racism. However, Goodell was also forced to admit “we were wrong” for not listening earlier to players who had protested these issues for years, including Colin Kaepernick, who was blacklisted by the NFL for his silent kneeling protest.