Hawks Announce Juneteenth Will Be Paid Company Holiday for All Employees

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 22: The Atlanta Hawks logo at mid court is lit in red prior to an NBA game against the Dallas Mavericks at State Farm Arena on February 22, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

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The Atlanta Hawks announced Sunday that Juneteenth would be a paid company holiday for all team employees going forward. 

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reported that news:

Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpearsESPN

The Hawks announce they have designated Juneteenth as a permanent paid company holiday for all its employees. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19 that the Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times shared the full press release:

Dan Woike @DanWoikeSports

The Atlant Hawks have announced plans to make Juneteenth a permanent company holiday https://t.co/OtuIWJLgNe

That date—June 19, 1865—came nearly two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. 

But as Elizabeth Nix of History.com noted, the Emancipation Proclamation “didn’t instantly free any slaves. The proclamation only applied to places under Confederate control and not to slave-holding border states or rebel areas already under Union control. However, as Northern troops advanced into the Confederate South, many slaves fled behind Union lines.”

Because Texas hadn’t seen any major battles during the Civil War and didn’t have a significant presence of Union troops, slavery had continued in the state. Per Nix, “Many slave owners from outside the Lone Star State viewed it as a safe haven and had moved there with their slaves.”

But when Union general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston in 1865, slavery was finally over in Texas. And on Dec. 6, 1965, the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution—abolishing slavery—was ratified. 

While Juneteenth is not yet recognized as a national holiday, 47 states and the District of Columbia recognize it as a holiday or day of observance. Texas first did so in 1980. 

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