Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is encouraging employees to cancel meetings and “take some time to reflect, learn and support each other” on Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. Rather than recognize June 19 as a company holiday, as other tech leaders plan to, Amazon is encouraging employees to participate in “a range of online learning opportunities” throughout the day.
Bezos outlined Amazon’s Juneteenth plan Tuesday in an email to employees obtained by CNBC.
“This Friday, June 19, is Juneteenth, the oldest-known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.,” Bezos said in the email. “I’m cancelling all of my meetings on Friday, and I encourage all of you to do the same if you can.”
Juneteenth demonstrations are planned across the country Friday as part of a weeks-long racial justice movement sparked by the death of George Floyd. Twitter, Square, Uber, and others plan to honor June 19 as company-wide holidays. Microsoft is giving employees a “day of listening.”
To embrace the meaning of #Juneteenth this year, we’re making it a paid day off. We encourage employees to spend it in a way that allows them to stand up against racism, whether that’s by learning, participating in a community action, or reflecting on how to make change. (1/3)
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) June 17, 2020
Bezos has been publishing messages of solidarity with the protestors to social media, including his responses to customers who are angry with Amazon’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
But critics say the rhetoric doesn’t always square with Amazon’s policies. The ACLU and others are demanding Amazon stop developing products that aid in law enforcement. Amazon announced it will stop selling facial recognition technology to police for one year, but the company’s Ring subsidiary continues to work closely with police departments across the country.