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Lions to recognize Juneteenth; will Raiders, NFL follow?

In a statement released today on their official Twitter account, the Detroit Lions formally announced their recognition and observance of Juneteenth as a permanent organizational holiday.

Juneteenth, also called Freedom Day, commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger and his Union soldiers landed in Galveston, Texas, with federal orders that all enslaved peoples were now free.

This was two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation formally freed slaves, but the defeat of the Confederate states and the arrival of Union soldiers in the South meant that the orders could finally be enforced.

It was, and is, an important date in American history and one that is quickly gaining steam as far as recognition and right to become a federal holiday. For the last few weeks, the country has been embroiled in protests and riots after the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, with marchers demanding justice and change to a criminal justice system that heavily impacts the poor and people of color.

If there’s one thing the National Football League hates, it’s getting tangled up in political conversations (for example see: Kaepernick, Colin).

Regardless of their feelings, this is something that NFL owners should firmly get behind and push to the national forefront. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has admitted that the NFL should have listened to its players about racism. That’s a big time statement from a league that does its very best to avoid the political spotlight.

Although the NFL abhors anything that takes the shine away from their game (i.e. wallets) they should embrace this small, but necessary next step, especially given that 70% of their players are African American.

Screen shot of 2017 NFL racial breakdown | https://theatlas.com/charts/BJ8fvBNym

The Lions have made the first move, will the Las Vegas Raiders be the next team to step up? If the recent statements from Raiders owner Mark Davis indicates the true feelings of the organization, they should be.

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