While not a federal holiday in the United States, Juneteenth is a day for celebration and remembrance tied closely to the end of slavery in 1865: June 19 marks the emancipation of slaves in the Confederate States following the end of the Civil War. While slavery still legally existed until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 6 of the same year, Juneteenth still marks a key point in the fight for freedom.
155 years later, the day is still celebrated in honor of the men, women and children who were freed from slavery.
In light of the social unrest taking place all over the country, the New England Patriots also decided to commemorate the holiday this year. “We’ve never posted about Juneteenth, but it is always the right time to do better than before,” the organization said in post about the holiday shared on its various social media channels. “Today is a reflection of freedom, a day to celebrate and educate.”
The team’s full statement on Juneteenth reads as follows:
We often say ‘We are all Patriots’ and with a team name like Patriots, it’s important we represent all patriots. Black history IS American history. Our football team is predominantly comprised of Black men, who are people before they are players, and black lives must matter on and off the football field. We cannot simply ‘stick to football’ without acknowledging race and celebrating Juneteenth, the national commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Despite common misconception, slavery did not end nationwide with the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 19, 1865, two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s order, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Texas with the news the war was over and slaves were free. The celebrations that followed led to Juneteenth, a commemoration of African American freedom and achievement. Today is Juneteenth, a day for education and appreciation.
For more information on the holiday and its meaning to American history and the black community, please make sure to also watch this video produced by Vox: