For the first time, the Buffalo Bills have closed their offices today in observance of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. This year, the NFL announced they would close the league offices today and the majority of teams have followed suit.
“This Friday our organizations will observe Juneteenth as a company-wide holiday,” wrote owners Terry and Kim Pegula in a statement. “We have encouraged our employees to use this day to celebrate Black history and culture, seek a greater understanding of social injustice, and racial inequality, and embrace our nation’s diversity.”
Juneteenth is celebrated annually on the 19th of June to commemorate the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in the state of Texas. While the Proclamation went into effect nearly two and a half years earlier in January of 1863, it wasn’t until the end of the Civil War and Union troops making their way to Texas in June of 1865 that the Proclamation guidelines were finally enforced. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified six months later, banning slavery in the United States in December of 1865.
The NFL and other organizations around the country have recently been focusing on racial inequality following protests that have become the latest flash point in the fight for civil rights.