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 AmashKudlow acknowledges executive orders may end up in court: 'We're going to go ahead with our actions anyways' Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Peter Meijer wins GOP primary in Amash's Michigan district MORE (L-Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOcasio-Cortez celebrates 'squad' primary victories: 'The people triumphed' It's past time to be rid of the legacy of Jesse Helms Minneapolis Star Tribune endorses Ilhan Omar's primary challenger 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.