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NFL to close offices for Juneteenth, making it an official league holiday

NFL to close offices for Juneteenth, making it an official league holiday

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Friday that the league's offices would close next Friday in recognition of Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. 

"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 an internal memo.

"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," he continued.

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The news comes amid ongoing protests demonstrating against racial inequality and the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. 

Since Floyd's death, current and former NFL players have spoken out against his killing and police brutality.

In an open letter spearheaded by the Player's Coalition — an organization made up of NFL players to address social justice issues — the group called on Congress to support legislation put forward by Reps. Justin AmashJustin AmashIncoming GOP lawmaker shares video of hotel room workout, citing 'Democrat tyrannical control' Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day Romney congratulates Biden after victory MORE (L-Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyGOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' Pelosi faces caucus divisions in Biden era Record number of Black women elected to Congress in 2020 MORE (D- Mass.) to revoke the so-called qualified immunity for police officers. 

The doctrine shields police officers from legal responsibility for the actions they take while on duty.

Goodell noted in his statement that the celebration of Juneteenth is important now more than ever.

"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," he said. 

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"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."

It is unclear from Goodell's internal memo whether the NFL's observation of Juneteenth will be an annual occurrence. 

The news from the NFL also comes as other corporations in the U.S. have made Juneteenth a companywide holiday. Nike CEO Joe Donahue announced Thursday that the company will make the day a paid holiday. 

"As many of you may know, next Friday, June 19, is Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. Starting this year and going forward, Nike will recognize Juneteenth as an annual paid holiday in the U.S," he wrote in the company-wide memo.