Auto Factories Go Quiet to Mark Juneteenth With 8 Minutes, 46 Seconds of Silence

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Events and celebrations will be held across metro Detroit today to mark Juneteenth, the holiday that honors June 19, 1865, when the last slaves were notified of their freedom two years after the Civil War.

George Floyd's death in Minneapolis and ensuing protests that swept the country brought new energy to celebrations and commitment to diversity tied to the holiday by communities, multi-billion-dollar brands, schools, and more.

Among the ways the occasion is being honored is something new for the auto industry: Silence amid the usual cacophony of sound on busy factory floors.

It's not just a moment of silence, it's actually, nearly nine minutes because at 8:46 a.m. and 8:46 p.m. today, work will stop at Detroit's auto factories for eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence.

That Juneteenth moment is meant to remember the exact length of time that officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the back of George Floyd's neck before he died last month during an arrest for a minor incident. 

"The idea for the event was suggested by the UAW and embraced by the Detroit automakers," WWJ's Auto Beat Reporter Jeff Gilbert said.

A mural was also painted on Woodward to inspire Juneteenth revelers before the 10 a.m. rally celebration planned there. Detroit's Juneteenth rally, called the Freedom Rally, is happening at the Spirit Plaza.

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