The Washington Redskins informed employees Wednesday that Juneteenth, or June 19th, will be a company holiday, joining other teams and the NFL itself in recognizing the day that commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States.
Redskins head coach Ron Rivera detailed the team’s plans to give all employees a paid day off on Friday in a companywide memo, ESPN reported. The decision surfaced days after the NFL announced that it would close its corporate offices in observance of the holiday.
The Redskins are one of at least 20 teams, including the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints and New York Jets, who have declared Juneteenth a company holiday.
President Abraham Lincoln declared all slaves were free through the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. June 19 marked the date in 1865 when Union soldiers announced the order in Galveston, Texas, at the end of the Civil War.
The Redskins have faced renewed scrutiny over their team name and logo in recent days amid nationwide protests against racial injustice. Critics have long argued that the name is racist.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, called on the team to change its name earlier this month after Washington’s social media accounts shared “Blackout Tuesday” posts in solidarity with the protests.
For its part, the NFL has pledged $250 million over a 10-year period toward social justice causes and efforts to combat systemic racism. The league also vowed to use its media platforms, including the NFL Network, to raise awareness for key issues.