In a memo on Tuesday, Bezos urged Amazon employees to cancel all meetings on Friday to commemorate the day, CNBC reports. Juneteenth honors the emancipation of Black people from slavery in America. On June 19, 1865, Union Gen. Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation to African Americans, around 2.5 years after the proclamation was issued on Jan. 1, 1863.
Bezos has implored employees to attend online education sessions that will seemingly educate them about the history of systemic racism in the U.S. In the memo, Bezos writes that Amazon will present a “range of online learning opportunities” for workers on Friday. He also said it’s a moment for employees to “take some time to reflect, learn, and support each other.”
Read the full memo:
Over the past few weeks, the Steam and I have spent a lot of time listening to customers and employees and thinking about how recent events in our country have laid bare the systemic racism and injustices that oppress Black individuals and communities.
This Friday, June 19, is Juneteenth, the oldest-known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. I’m cancelling all of my meetings on Friday, and I encourage all of you to do the same if you can. We’re providing a range of online learning opportunities for employees throughout the day.
Please take some time to reflect, learn, and support each other. Slavery ended a long time ago, but racism didn’t.
Other tech companies have moved to recognize Juneteenth, amid ongoing protests fighting against systemic racism and police brutality. Last week, Jack Dorsey announced that the day would be a company holiday for Twitter and Square, and Google has advised employees to cancel meetings on Friday. Facebook took a similar approach to Amazon, emboldening workers to celebrate the day with learning. Nike and the NFL have also recognized Juneteenth as a holiday.
Amazon has advocated for the Black Lives Matter movement, with the company tweeting a statement of solidarity at the end of May. Later, Bezos took to his personal Instagram account to slam customers who were upset that Amazon was openly saying Black Lives Matter. In June, Amazon also announced that it will pledge $10 million to social justice organizations.