Minnesota-based companies Target Corp., Best Buy and U.S. Bank have moved to establish Juneteenth, the June 19 celebration of the emancipation of African-Americans from slavery, as an official company holiday as more businesses continue to adjust their internal policies in the wake of widespread streets protests on racial equity.
While all Target stores and distribution centers will remain open on Friday, full-time hourly team members will have the option to take the day off with full pay. Hourly employees who decide to work that day will be paid time and a half. The Minneapolis headquarters offices will be closed in observance.
“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, Target’s chairman and chief executive, in a statement. “Juneteenth takes on additional significance in this moment.”
Best Buy, which began to reopen stores to walk-in traffic this week, will give all employees a paid volunteer day that can be used Friday or any remaining day this year. The stores will remain open Friday. Next year, Juneteenth will become a formal, paid company holiday.
“We do this with the sincere hope that any employee who chooses to use this time as one of reflection, speech, protest or community service will be able to without worry or cost to them,” the company said on its corporate blog.
In its announcement, Best Buy leadership also said for the first time ever, the company will shorten hours of operation on Election Day, Nov. 3.
U.S. Bank said it will close its offices and branches early at 1 p.m. on Friday in recognition of Juneteenth. The nation’s fifth-largest bank, it has more than 2,700 branches in 26 states.
“The events of the past few weeks have changed the conversation and added a sense of urgency that has motivated more people across the globe to act to address social injustice,” Andy Cecere, U.S. Bank CEO, said in a statement. “We are encouraging our employees to use this time to serve in our communities, commit to inclusion and advocacy, or simply educate themselves on this very important topic.”
There has been a national push to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, a campaign that has intensified in the wake of the case of George Floyd who died in the custody of Minneapolis police last month and ignited global demonstrations on equality and police brutality. Target, Best Buy and U.S. Bank join several other companies that have announced the move to recognize Juneteenth as a company holiday, including Twitter, Nike and Minneapolis-based employee scheduling software company When I Work.
The holiday (a mash-up of the words June and 19th) celebrates June 19, 1865, when Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger informed slaves in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and they were free.
Minneapolis has been home to one of the largest Juneteenth celebrations in the country.
At Target, Juneteenth is now observed in addition to six other paid holidays. Target stores are closed on Easter and Christmas Day and for a portion of the day on Thanksgiving. The Juneteenth announcement follows Target’s pledge of $10 million to social justice organizations, as well as community rebuilding efforts.