The Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment group — the organization that oversees the Utah Jazz, Salt Lake Bees, Megaplex Theaters and Vivint Smart Home Arena — announced Wednesday that it has made Juneteenth an annual company holiday.
Juneteenth, or June 19, is the day in 1865 that Union soldiers came to Galveston, Texas, and read federal orders that all slaves were now free. The holiday was celebrated in Texas at first, but then spread around the South in the early 20th century and later the United States.
A 2016 bill passed the holiday as a commemorated day in Utah.
“In the midst of the national conversation and calls for racial justice, our franchise has made the decision to pause, work to further educate ourselves, and reflect on our country’s race relations both past and present by observing Juneteenth,” Jazz president Jim Olson said in a statement. “This is an important milestone in our history and another step for us to learn more about freedom for all and the fight for equality, and ideally be part of helping to create meaningful change.”
Theaters will stay open on June 19, moving forward, and any events scheduled on that date will still take place — but employees will be paid time and a half for their hours worked. In other words, the company is treating Juneteenth like any other federal holiday, like Memorial Day or Labor Day.
On Friday, LHMSE employees will also be invited to watch “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” the new biopic about the civil rights leader and U.S. congressman.