Juneteenth falls on June 19, the date in 1865 when slaves in Texas learned of their freedom more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Clippers will observe June 19 as a paid company holiday for employees of the team, their G League affiliate in Ontario and the Forum, which owner Steve Ballmer purchased in May, “in order to create space for reflection, education, action and engagement to advance racial equality,” the team said in a statement. In addition, the team started a petition on Change.org to make Juneteenth a national holiday and asked fans for their support in signing it.
The Lakers will also give their staff the day off and asked that they spend it reflecting on and educating themselves further about the history and current state of race in America. They have distributed reading materials to staff members and offered the screening of the documentary “John Lewis: Good Trouble.” Lewis is a civil rights activist who was one of the original Freedom Riders and has been a U.S. congressman since 1987.
The Lakers are planning to make a donation in an effort to “combat some of the current inequalities that exist in the Black communities we serve.” They will donate iPads to four organizations focused on education with which they have existing relationships: 4WRD Progress, Watts Skills Academy, Crete Academy, Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles.
On Thursday, the Lakers announced the hiring of Karida Brown, an assistant professor of African American studies and sociology at UCLA, as their inaugural director of race equity and action.
Staff writer Andrew Greif contributed to this story.