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NCAA recognizes significance of Juneteenth

The Association’s People of Color Employee Engagement Group provides an educational resource for holiday celebrating end of slavery

In recognition of Juneteenth, the NCAA is closing its national office Friday. President Mark Emmert announced the decision in a message to membership and NCAA employees, emphasizing: “We believe it is important to take time to honor this key milestone in our nation’s history. Our staff will use the day to educate themselves and others on social justice issues or support causes that foster a more fair and equal society.

“Our country has a tremendous opportunity to impact change, but it has not been without pain. We will continue to find ways to support you while identifying ways to be part of the solution,” Emmert wrote.

At the national office, the effort to recognize Juneteenth has been coordinated by the People of Color Employee Engagement Group, one of several such employee groups focused on bringing awareness to important audiences and topics.

The People of Color EEG aims to provide opportunities for employees to learn about, share and celebrate diverse cultures, while unifying and developing meaningful relationships across the national office and in the membership.

“It is important we take this time to celebrate all that Juneteenth represents, while also reflecting how all of us across college sports can be part of the solutions our society is working on right now,” said Bob Williams, senior vice president of communications and executive sponsor of the EEG. “The EEG provides this educational resource to help others learn about how they can celebrate this historic event in American history and continue the conversations about social justice long after this Friday.”

What is Juneteenth?

June 19 is the annual celebration of the end of slavery. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed Jan. 1, 1863, and the Civil War ended April 9, 1865, over 250,000 remained enslaved in Texas when Union troops arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, to order their emancipation.

Texas was the first state to adopt the formal holiday in 1980. The combination of June and 19 helped create the name Juneteenth.

Significance of Juneteenth

Due to the delay that slaves had in finding out about emancipation, Juneteenth is also a reminder of the delayed change and action that still plague society around race. Black Americans have had to endure continued systemic oppression and racism in the years since emancipation and continue to face inequities. 

As of 2020, though, 47 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday or day of observance. (Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota are the only states that do not recognize the holiday.)

The day is celebrated with family get-togethers, music festivals, educational programs and other gatherings.

Resources to learn more

Here is a list of resources to learn more about Juneteenth and black history: