Local Pro Sports Teams Observe Juneteenth in Different Ways

Texas was the first state to establish Juneteenth, June 19, as a state holiday

The Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks and Stars will observe Juneteenth by giving employees a paid holiday while the Texas Rangers will use the day as an opportunity to educate employees on the history behind the celebration.

On Friday, the NFL informed its employees that they would be given the day off on June 19. Since then, several teams, now including the Cowboys, followed suit.

NBC 5 checked with other local pro sports teams and learned the Mavericks and Stars were also observing the day as a paid holiday.

The death of George Floyd and subsequent nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality have sparked a conversation about racial injustice and Juneteenth.

Juneteenth, June 19, is an annual celebration marking the end of slavery in the U.S. The holiday commemorates a specific date — June 19, 1865, the day many enslaved people in Texas learned they had been freed.

One North Texas woman is walking all the way to Washington D.C. to try and get Juneteenth recognized as a national holiday.

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, announcing that enslaved people "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free," but the proclamation didn’t immediately apply in certain areas, including secessionist states like Texas, which had left the Union and joined the Confederacy during the Civil War.

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It took another two years for the news to be enacted in Texas. The Civil War ended in April 1865 and two months later, on June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army issued General Order No. 3 in Galveston with Granger saying, "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free."

Slavery was formally abolished after Congress ratified the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution nearly six months later, on Dec. 6, 1865. Freed enslaved people marked June 19 the following year, kicking off the first celebration of Juneteenth.

Hundreds of students visited Dallas Heritage Village took part in “Walking with Destiny 2013” a program to educate and celebrate Juneteeth, the day Texas slaves were emancipated. They came away with a little understanding and some new shoes.

Juneteenth is also known as Black Independence Day, Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Juneteenth Independence Day or Juneteenth National Freedom Day.

Texas was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday in February 1979. Currently, 47 states recognize Juneteenth as a holiday, but efforts to make Juneteenth a national holiday have been unsuccessful thus far.

Many universities and private companies, including Nike and Twitter, have declared Juneteenth as a holiday.

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