Some Georgia companies granting Juneteenth holidays

ajc.com

Others call for reflection, change

Some Georgia companies are joining a parade of corporations naming Juneteenth a holiday as the ongoing racial turmoil has caused a period of reflection.

Others, such as Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, are giving it a nod not as a holiday, but for a day of learning and change.

June 19, 1865 - or Juneteenth - was the day some of the last slaves in Texas, the farthest west Confederate state, were freed.

The day has long been noted and celebrated by African Americans with speeches and other events, but most states have recognized the day with resolutions only in recent years. Texas was first, in 1980. Georgia joined in 2011.

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It has not been designated as a federal holiday, which would make it a paid day off for many workers. But some Atlanta-based companies are moving ahead.

Marketing platform Mailchimp is offering it as a company holiday, according to a tweet from CEO Ben Chestnut.

Delivery startup Roadie “also joined the growing list of businesses marking Juneteenth, sometimes called ‘Black Independence Day,’ as a company-wide holiday — this year, and every year,” according to a company release.

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Other companies, such as Inspire Brands, which owns restaurant chains Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and others, are striking a middle ground. They are not declaring a company holiday, but say they are adding it to a flexible list of days off that employees can choose to enjoy.

UPS said employees can use their paid time off on Juneteenth "at their discretion." The shipping giant also said it plans to educate employees on the history and meaning of Juneteenth with input from its African American Business Resource Group.

Investment firm Invesco said, “Finally, we will be offering Juneteenth as a day of reflection/optional holiday for employees who would like to take the day off to reflect.”

Credit agency Equifax is sharing information and history about the day through the company’s internal intranet and hosting “virtual” events. Employees can use their personal time off or choose to take it as “a floating holiday,” which is included in benefits to let employees honor religious, cultural or heritage celebrations.

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Home Depot said it is having  “a virtual event for associates to come together, have open conversation and celebrate the day.” The retailer said it also has had internal commemorations of Juneteenth in the past.

Beverage giant Coke said “Juneteenth is not a holiday for the company, but we are encouraging our associates to take some time for their own reflection, education and advocacy for social change.”

Delta plans to commemorate Juneteenth with a message from CEO Ed Bastian encouraging employees to use the day for reflection, education, action or celebrating with their community. The airline also plans to hold a town hall with employees next Wednesday on systemic racism and injustice, and is reviewing all of its 2021 holidays for more inclusivity.

Southern Company, which includes Georgia Power, Southern Company Gas, and Atlanta Gas Light, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “We are currently looking into how we can recognize Juneteenth each year to honor and learn from our culturally and ethnically diverse workforce.”