The Potluck

Target to observe Juneteenth as company holiday 

By: - June 16, 2020 10:16 am

A Target store employee collects shopping carts to bring back into the store on Aug. 21, 2019 in Pembroke Pines, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Target will begin honoring Juneteenth, a holiday long observed by many Black Americans commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865 — more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation — union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce that enslaved people were free.

“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,” Target CEO and Chairman Brian Cornell said in a statement.

Target’s Minneapolis headquarters will close for the day, but all stores and distribution centers will remain open. Eligible hourly employees scheduled to work on June 19 will have the option to take the day off with full pay, and those who do work will earn time and a half.

Target’s announcement is the second major step the Minnesota-based retailer has taken following the police killing of George Floyd to show its support for racial justice and equity. On June 5, Target announced it would donate $10 million to causes that advance racial justice and help Minneapolis Black-owned businesses rebuild from the looting and arson that swept through the city following Floyd’s death.

The Target store across from Minneapolis’s Third Precinct Police Station on Lake Street was the first to be looted amid widespread protests and riots. Other Targets across the country were also broken into, prompting the company to temporarily close 200 stores nationwide.

Target, however, has also come under criticism for its ties to law enforcement. Among them, an arrangement with with the Minneapolis Police Department included a $300,000 grant and technical support to create a surveillance network in downtown Minneapolis. Others shared experiences of racial profiling, including a Black mother who wrote in the New York Times about how a Target employee called the police on her autistic 13-year-old for trying to hug an employee.

Target joins a host of other companies to begin recognizing the holiday this year including Nike, Twitter, the National Football League and the New York Times.

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.