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NFL to observe Juneteenth as league holiday

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Friday in an internal memo to staff that the league will observe Juneteenth on Friday, June 19 as a recognized holiday and the league's offices will be closed that day.

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in United States and marks the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, and announced that slavery had ended and that the Civil War was over.

"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 wrote. "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."

On Thursday, the NFL announced it was committing $250 million over a 10-year period to a fund to combat systemic racism and support the battle against injustices faced by African Americans.

Below is the memo from Goodell in full:

Dear NFL Colleagues:

Juneteenth, celebrated annually on June 19th, commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. Though the Emancipation Proclamation, made effective by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863 declared that all persons held as slaves be freed, slavery persisted throughout the course of the Civil War. It was not until two and a half years later, on June 19th 1865, when Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas and declared the war to be over, that all of those enslaved became free.

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. 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.

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.

Roger

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