MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In cities and states across the nation, Friday will be observed as Juneteenth. The holiday marks the anniversary of the emancipation of what were thought to be the last group of slaves in the Confederacy.
On Monday, Minnesota-based Target announced that it would observe Juneteenth as an annual company going forward, and would put $10 million toward the advancement of social justice and to support rebuilding and recovery efforts in the Twin Cities. This comes after days of civil unrest following the death of George Floyd while being restrained by now-fired Minneapolis Police Officers.
The criminal complaints say ex-officer Derek Chauvin held his knee down on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, after Floyd was arrested for allegedly trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a South Minneapolis convenience store.
“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,” Brian Cornell, Target chairman and CEO, said. “Juneteenth takes on additional significance in this moment. Moving now to recognize it on an annual basis—as a day to celebrate, further educate ourselves or connect with our communities—is one more important action Target can take as a company to help the country live up to the ideal of moving forward in a new way.”
The stores will be open on Friday, but hourly workers who work that day will be paid time and a half, and eligible team members would also be given the option to take the day off with pay.
“At Target, we’re committed to standing with Black families, communities and team members and creating lasting change around racial justice and equity. We’re building on a strong foundation of diversity and inclusion and taking action to do more—from forming an internal action committee to guide Target’s path forward,” the release said.
Another Minneapolis-based company, U.S. Bank, says it plans to observe Juneteenth, with offices and branches around the country closings early Friday, at 1 p.m.
“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,” said U.S. Bank CEO and president Andy Cecere, in a statement.
Celebrations of the day date back nearly to that June 19, 1865 date when Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas to tell slaves of their emancipation. In many places early on, it was celebrated as Emancipation Day, and there have been declines and revivals of the holiday throughout post-Civil War history.
As of this year, almost every state observes the holiday on an official level, with Texas being the first state to do so back in 1980, and Montana being the most recent in 2017. Minnesota was the fourth state overall and the first state outside of the lands that constituted the Confederacy to observe Juneteenth, back in 1996.
Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota are the last remaining states that do not officially observe Juneteenth.
It is not yet a federal holiday.