The NFL told its franchises Friday it will recognize Juneteenth as a holiday and close league offices.
Juneteenth is marked on June 19 to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation being read in Texas more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln declared that all slaves will be freed. As part of its commitment to social justice, the NFL announced it would recognize the day.
“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,” the memo read. “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 following, a freedom for which we must continue to fight.
“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. 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.”
ESPN was among the first outlets to obtain the memo.
The NFL’s Juneteenth declaration is the latest effort by the league to take part in social justice issues.
The league announced Thursday that it will commit $250 million over a 10-year period to different programs that combat systematic racism and fight against social inequality.
”The NFL is growing our social justice efforts through a 10-year, total $250 million fund to combat systemic racism and support the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African-Americans,” the league said in a statement. “The NFL and our clubs will continue to work collaboratively with NFL players to support programs to address criminal justice reform, police reforms, and economic and educational advancement.”
The NFL added: “In addition to the financial commitment, we will continue to leverage the NFL Network and all of our media properties to place an increased emphasis on raising awareness and promoting education of social justice issues to our fans and help foster unity.”
Fox News’ Dan Canova contributed to this report.