ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) — Denver Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis announced Juneteenth will be a permanent, paid holiday for the organization starting this year. The day will be dedicated to reflection, learning and service. The Broncos join the NFL’s league offices in their recognition of Juneteenth.

UCHealth Training Center and Empower Field at Mile High will be closed Friday, June 19, in recognition of Juneteenth.

The Broncos website states:

June 19, 1865 — or Juneteenth — is celebrated as the United States’ second independence day and marks the effective end of slavery in the United States. While President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, slavery persisted in Confederate states over the next several years. On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers informed enslaved African-Americans in Texas that they were freed by executive decree.

Though many did not gain their freedom immediately, Juneteenth was when more than 250,000 enslaved people in Texas learned they would gain their freedom. Later in 1865, the 13th amendment was ratified and officially abolished slavery in the United States. It was still another year before freed slaves and other Black Americans granted citizenship and equal protection under the law through the Civil Rights Act of 1866.

Going forward, the Broncos will plan social justice community service opportunities for employees on that day.

On Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the league’s decision to close its offices, “as the league aims to take steps to combat systemic racism and support Black Americans.”

Team officials say Ellis met with members of the Broncos’ roster on June 2 to express the team’s stand against systemic racism, police brutality and other social injustices.

“Ellis urged the team’s players to use their platforms to enact change, and he pledged the team would support them in their efforts,” the team website stated.

Several Broncos players and staff took part in a Denver march for justice following the death of George Floyd. Von Miller, Drew Lock, Vic Fangio and Joe Ellis were among the team members who marched from the State Capitol building to the Greek Amphitheatre.

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