Best Buy corporate offices will be closed Friday, and U.S. Bank branches will be closed Saturday, as more Minnesota companies add Juneteenth to their list of holidays.
June 19, the day marking the emancipation of Black people from slavery in 1865, has taken on more significance in recent years. And on Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a bill making it a national holiday.
For many businesses, the development coincided with pledges to increase diversity and inclusion efforts following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May.
Target last year made Juneteenth a company holiday, and Best Buy made it a volunteer day, saying it would become a holiday this year.
U.S. Bank branches closed early last year, and on Thursday, the company decided to close branches on Saturday which would normally be open a half-day since it's now a federal holiday.
"Juneteenth is an opportunity for all Americans to pause and reflect," Greg Cunningham, chief diversity officer of the Minneapolis-based bank wrote in a blog post. "Despite the painful origins of the holiday, its significance and what we as a nation stopped by ending legal slavery should be owned and celebrated by all.
"We can do that best by making this the moment of building strength together. By recommitting to actions that spread the promise and potential of our democracy to more, we will all reap the benefits of living in a healthier, safer and more fruitful nation."
Because it falls on a Saturday this year, Best Buy is marking Juneteenth on Friday. Store employees working that day will be paid time-and-a-half wages.
"Juneteenth has long been an important day for the Black American community, but it hasn't had the awareness or recognition it deserves among the other holidays we celebrate," said Mark Irvin, the Richfield-based retailer's chief inclusion, diversity and talent officer. "With this in mind, it's really important for us to recognize its significance with our employees and offer them an opportunity to celebrate, reflect or give back."
The company also held an educational seminar and provided resources and information on community-led celebrations, educational resources and volunteer opportunities to its employees.
And Best Buy will match one-time donations by employees on June 19 to nonprofit organizations.
Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America also will give employees Friday off as a holiday and provided information on how to participate or volunteer in the Twin Cities, which holds one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in the United States.
While Sleep Number is not offering a paid day off, it is marking Juneteenth through philanthropy efforts. This year, it is donating to support a health-equity screening grant for Black communities through the American Cancer Society.
Other companies, such as Xcel Energy and Ameriprise, encourage employees if they choose to use one of their paid days to volunteer on Juneteenth.
Ameriprise also has integrated Juneteenth into its diversity and inclusion education, partnering with its Black Employee Network and Black Empowerment Advisor Community Network to hold virtual speaker sessions and other communications.
General Mills is using the day to highlight its equity goals with employees. The company also held a celebration of Black talent in the arts with spoken word, dance and musical performances, and sponsored time for employees to volunteer.
Staff writers Patrick Kennedy, Kavita Kumar and Mike Hughlett contributed to this report.