National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell said Juneteenth will be recognized as a league holiday and ordered the closing of the league office, according to a memo obtained by CNBC Friday.
In the memo, Goodell said he wants staff to use June 19 as 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 celebrated the official end of slavery in the U.S. after the Civil War ended in 1865, despite the freedom of slaves via the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Goodell said the historical event “weighs even more heavily today in the current climate.”
The May 25 death of George Floyd continues to plague the country, sparking renewed conversation around police brutality and racial and social injustice against Black people.
Last Friday, the NFL also made headlines when Goodell issued an apology to NFL players who kneeled during the national anthem to bring awareness to social injustices against the Black community. The NFL also upped its donation to $250 million over 10 years for social justice causes.
Other companies like Twitter, Square, and Nike also announced plans this week to make Juneteenth a holiday. Goodell said in the memo that the date “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,” Goodell wrote.