NCAA Recognizes Significance of Juneteenth Annual Celebration Of The End Of Slavery

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Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation

The NCAA closed its office on Friday, in recognition of June 19, or “Juneteenth,” the date nationally celebrated as the commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, the NCAA said in a release.

NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the decision in a message to membership and NCAA employees.

The effort to recognize Juneteenth at the NCAA national office has been coordinated by the People of Color Employee Engagement Group, one of several such groups focused on bringing awareness to important topics.

“It is important we take this time to celebrate all that Juneteenth represents, while also reflecting how all of us across college sports can be part of the solutions our society is working on right now,” said Bob Williams, senior vice president of communications and executive sponsor of the EEG. “The EEG provides this educational resource to help others learn about how they can celebrate this historic event in American history and continue the conversations about social justice long after this Friday.”

“We believe it is important to take time to honor this key milestone in our nation’s history,” Emmert wrote.

“Our staff will use the day to educate themselves and others on social justice issues or support causes that foster a more fair and equal society. Our country has a tremendous opportunity to impact change, but it has not been without pain. We will continue to find ways to support you while identifying ways to be part of the solution.”

June 19, or Juneteenth, is the annual celebration of the end of slavery. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was signed Jan. 1, 1863, and the Civil War ended April 9, 1865, over 250,000 remained enslaved in Texas when Union troops arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, to order their emancipation. As of 2020, 47 of the 50 states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or day of observance.

Due to the delay that slaves had in finding out about emancipation, Juneteenth is also a reminder of the delayed change and action that still plague society around race. Black Americans have had to endure continued systemic oppression and racism in the years since emancipation and continue to face inequities. (Read more about the holiday here.)

In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, millions of Americans have committed to ending systemic racism and fighting for equality with contributions to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Olympic swimmers Lia Neal and Jacob Pebley have started the web series “Swimmers for Change,” a grassroots movement involving over 30 Olympic, Paralympic, and U.S. national team athletes. The goal is to provide a platform for the swimming community to contribute towards raising awareness and support for the Black Lives Matter movement and combating systemic racism in the U.S.

The two Olympians have led the efforts to mobilize over 30 U.S. Olympic, Paralympic and National Team athletes, past and present, to volunteer their time and expertise to the swimming audience by hosting two weeks of daily live webinar shows. The schedule can be seen in full here.

Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel, who has had a strong voice regarding ending systemic racism in the US as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, posted about Juneteenth:

“We remember this day for our ancestors’ strength.

“We remember this day for their perseverance.

“We remember this day for the freedoms they continued to fight for.

“We remember this day because our ancestors’ stories, journeys, and faith for a better tomorrow is the strong foundation that we stand on.

“We remember their pain, their joy, their tears and prayers.

“We remember that we are created from the same fabric.

“AND that fabric molds and shapes us to continue the fight for justice, equality and equity.

“To continue the fight for them, but for all who come after.

“Because we are the answered prayers of the past and the inspiration and hope for the future.”

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We remember this day for our ancestors’ strength. We remember this day for their perseverance. We remember this day for the freedoms they continued to fight for. We remember this day because our ancestors’ stories, journeys, and faith for a better tomorrow is the strong foundation that we stand on. We remember their pain, their joy, their tears and prayers. We remember that we are created from the same fabric. AND that fabric molds and shapes us to continue the fight for justice, equality and equity. To continue the fight for them, but for all who come after. Because we are the answered prayers of the past and the inspiration and hope for the future. ✊🏿❤️✊🏾💚 #happyjuneteenth

A post shared by Simone Manuel (@swimone) on

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