Nike and NFL to Recognize Juneteenth as a Company Holiday amid Fight Against Racial Injustice

Juneteenth, short for June 19th, is a holiday that marks the end of slavery in the U.S.

NFL logo
NFL. Photo: Alex Burstow/Getty

The NFL is joining Nike in recognizing Juneteenth as a company holiday, beginning this year.

Juneteenth — short for "June Nineteenth" — is a nationally celebrated holiday that marks the official end of slavery in the U.S., dating back to 1865.

“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," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement that went out to teams Friday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

"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 added.

Nike CEO John Donahoe issued a similar statement to employees Thursday, announcing that Juneteenth will be an annual paid holiday.

In the memo, Donahue said the recognition is an “important opportunity to better commemorate and celebrate Black history and culture,” according to Forbes.

“When we say that Black Lives Matter, it applies to the world outside of Nike and, importantly, it applies to our Black teammates within Nike. Simply put, we need to hold ourselves to a high standard given the heritage of our company and our brand,” he added.

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Goodell’s announcement about Juneteenth comes about a week after he formally apologized for ignoring players who kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism over the last several seasons.

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and systematic oppression of black people," he said in a video posted to Instagram. "[We] admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest."

"We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter," he continued. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League, and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff."

Eli Harold #58, Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest on the sideline, during the anthem
Colin Kaepernick. Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty

However, Goodell did not mention Colin Kaepernick in the apology, who famously kickstarted the #TakeAKnee movement while playing with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016.

Goodell released the statement — issued in the wake of the current protests against police brutality and racial injustice — one day after a collection of NFL players released a joint video that called for the league to do more about racial inequality.

"On behalf of the National Football League, this is what we the players would like to hear you state," the players say in the video.

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systemic oppression of black people," they added. "We, the National Football League, admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We, the National Football League, believe black lives matter."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

• Campaign Zero ( which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies. works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.

• National Cares Mentoring Movement ( provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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