Amazon, Target, Nike and Other Big Companies Observing Juneteenth

Several companies have announced that they will honor Juneteeth as an annnual paid holiday for employees, while other companies will commemorate the day by holding a moment of silence.

The 155-year-old holiday on June 19 celebrates the ending of slavery after union soldiers notified enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas that they were officially free following the end of the Civil War two years after president Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. By the end of 1865, the 13th amendment was ratified to formally prohibit slavery throughout the United States.

Here's how many companies are honoring Juneteenth:

Amazon

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sent a memo encouraging employees to cancel meetings and participate “a range of online learning opportunities” provided by the company. They did not mention recognizing it as a company holiday.

A tweet also revealed they raised the Pan-African flag at the Seattle headquarters.

Best Buy

The electronic retailer announced a "paid volunteer day" for employees. It said the day would be recognized as a companywide holiday starting next year.

“We have made the decision to give all employees a paid volunteer day that can be used this Friday or any day this year for any of these purposes,” a press release from Best Buy said.

“Starting next year, Juneteenth will become a formal, paid company holiday. We made the decision to begin this next year only because June 19 is just a few days away, and we wanted to give as much flexibility as possible to accommodate individual schedules.”

General Motors

The company, among others in the auto industry, will hold a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. and 8:46 p.m. for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time Minneapolis police knet on George Floyd’s neck.

“The United States, along with the rest of the world, needs to change, and we want to do everything we can to help make that happen, from donating our money and time to aiming to be the world’s most inclusive company to reminding all our employees of our goals and values every day. Friday’s event is one way to do just that,” Mark Reuss, the executive vice president of global product development, said in a statement, per NBC.

Google

The tech giant marked the day as a U.S holiday in the Google Calendar. It also encouraged employees to cancel “unnecessary meetings.”

According to the memo on Reuters, the company hoped the day would be used to "create space for learning and reflection."

JCPenney

JCPenney will recognize the day as a holiday, and though stores will remain open, workers will get holiday pay.

“This Friday, June 19, I ask that you take the day to honor the historic pain caused by — and lives lost to — racial inequity, and celebrate racial diversity," CEO Jill Soltau said in a statement. "This is an opportunity to continue to learn, connect with each other, and reflect on how we can move forward and achieve permanent and lasting change.”

JPMorgan

The financial institution is closing banks at 1 p.m. in observance of the holiday. “While we must continue many core operations during this period, this early closure allows our branch employees — many of whom have been working on the front lines to support our customers and communities throughout the COVID-19 crisis — time to reflect, learn and participate in peaceful events in their communities,” Jamie Dimon, the company’s CEO, said in a statement.

Lyft

The ride-hailing service said it would be a companywide holiday.

“Starting this year, we’re making Juneteenth an official holiday at Lyft,” the tweet said. “It’s one step in our ongoing journey toward racial equality at Lyft, and in this country.”

NFL

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said Juneteenth a holiday, and would close the office, according to a memo obtained by CNBC.

The memo noted staff should use the day to “reflect on our past but, more importantly, consider how each one of us can continue to show up and band together to work toward a better future.”

Nike

The brand declared it would offer employees a paid holiday. It also closed all U.S. stores.

“At Nike, Inc., we aspire to be a leader in building a diverse, inclusive team and culture. We want to be better than society as a whole,” CEO John Donahoe said in a letter to employees. “You have told me that we have not consistently supported, recognized and celebrated our own Black teammates in a manner they deserve. This needs to change.”

Target

Target is giving hourly employees either a paid day off or will pay them time-and-a-half to work on June 19th.

“We recognize that the racial trauma the country is experiencing now is not new, but throughout recent weeks there has been a sense that this time is, and has to be, different,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO, on a statement on Target's website.

While stores will remain open, Target headquarters will be closed. 

Twitter and Square

The two corporations announced that the day would become a company holiday. CEO Jack Dorsey announced the day would call for “celebration, education, and connection.”

Uber

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi reevealed the ride-hailing company would honor the day as a paid holiday off.

“We encourage employees to spend it in a way that allows them to stand up against racism, whether that’s by learning, participating in a community action, or reflecting on how to make change.”

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