On Monday, Pharrell, Ellen, Jones, and Barris announced that they would be partnering with Global Citizen and the advisory firm Teneo for the Juneteenth Pledge. This is a worldwide effort to urge the private sector to recognize Juneteenth as a paid holiday. In doing so, this will hopefully force the country to acknowledge the day as a national holiday.
Along with making Juneteenth a paid holiday for its employees, the pledge calls for companies to "identify a relevant day in international offices to recognize the emancipation of enslaved people in their country, encourage other leaders in business to sign this pledge and join in making Juneteenth a recognized paid holiday, and support employees’ ability to learn, reflect and encourage continuous self-development and respect for all cultures."
The effort started with a video call to major corporations like Adidas, Airbnb, Amblin Partners, Greensill, HP, Participant, The J. M. Smucker Company, Starbucks, and Under Armour. All of these companies agreed to adhere to the pledge and acknowledge Juneteenth.
"I love America for its progression, but I’m really in love with the untapped potential of this country," Pharrell explained. "It was incredible to have powerful minds come together and really listen and be open to celebrating Juneteenth as a paid holiday. These companies influence which way the wind blows, they influence the economy and this was a very meaningful step in the right direction."
Pharrell has been integral in helping establish the importance of Juneteenth since the holiday started to gain more attention following the death of George Floyd. The entertainer was on hand when his home state of Virginia made the day a statewide holiday.
Along with Pharrell, Black-ish creator, Kenya Barris, has always placed an emphasis on Juneteenth. A lot of people have credited the writer and producer for introducing them to the holiday through his show's Juneteenth inspired episodes.
"Slavery is the recessive scar that all of us share as Americans and we will continue to share in the effects of that scar if we don’t actively address the impact it’s had on our country and, most especially, on Black people in this country," Barris said. "Celebrating Juneteenth and all that it represents from an American standpoint not only acknowledges the wounds of our past but helps guide us towards healing. Right now, we’re part of a unified movement and there is so much we can accomplish in coming together. CEOs can serve as agents of change by helping to shift us forward."
Companies inspired to recognize Juneteenth can visit the initiative's website and sign the pledge.