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NBA celebrates Juneteenth

Bradley Beal at Wizards' Juneteenth event

Washington Wizard NBA player Bradley Beal (R) speaks to demonstrators gathered at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to mark Juneteenth in Washington, DC, on June 19, 2020. - The US marks the end of slavery by celebrating Juneteenth, with the annual unofficial holiday taking on renewed significance as millions of Americans confront the nation’s living legacy of racial injustice. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

July 4 doesn’t represent independence to everyone. White people and black people have had very different struggles for freedom in this country.

That’s why it’s important to celebrate Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.

On June 19, 1865 – two-and-a-half years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and months after the Confederacy surrendered in the Civil War – it was announced in Galveston, Texas that slavery had ended. That date become a holiday, one that is gaining recognition in this moment of heightened awareness of racial issues.

The NBA is actively observing Juneteenth through paid time off, educational events and demonstrations – as are many teams:

Juneteenth is such a wonderful thing to celebrate.

But it’s also worth remembering: Slavery continued in Kentucky and Delaware for six months after Juneteenth. Like so many cases in America’s history, the racism was worse than the popular story let on. As much progress as we’ve made, there was such a long way to come – and still more work to do.