The NFL said on Friday it will be closing its offices this year to mark the anniversary of the end of slavery in the US.
Commissioner Roger Goodell announced in a statement that league offices would be shut on Friday, June 19, in observance of Juneteenth celebrations.
Goodell said the decision was made in the spirit of looking to the mistakes of the past to build a new path forward.
"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," the statement said. "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."
The announcement comes with the league on the defensive over years of mishandling the grievances of black players, specifically the peaceful protests started by Colin Kaepernick in 2016 in response to police brutality.
Goodell issued a high-profile apology last week during which he said Black Lives Matter, but he came under some criticism for not apologizing to Kaepernick specifically. The league also pledged $250M over 10 years to social justice causes and reportedly hoped to work with Kaepernick in his activism off the field.
Meanwhile calls continued growing for Kaepernick to get another shot at resuming his once promising career, with speculation rampant about his intentions and which teams might be interested in his services.
President Abraham Lincoln's famous executive order banning slavery, the Emancipation Proclamation, went into effect in January 1863, but it wasn't until the weeks after the end of the Civil War in April 1865 that all slaves were freed.
Texas, the westernmost state in the confederacy, became the final refuge of slaveholders as the Union Army made gains in the south and eventually won the war. Texas was officially declared a free state by a Union general on June 19, 1865.