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Juneteenth is the new official holiday in the United States, and massive tech companies are now announcing their plans on how they will observe it.

Tech companies' reactions come after a year of protest as the companies were scrutinized for their recruiting practices and their treatment of Black employees. Some social media companies, like Twitter and Square, started recognizing the holiday in 2020.

Juneteenth National Holiday

Tiffany Bowden, the program manager on Amazon's Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team, said in a blog post that Juneteenth is not just about Black History, but it is also American history and a complex one.

The Amazon blog stated that while rejoicing in progress, they would want people to continue to educate themselves about history in order to help guide the future.

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Amazon added that they honor those who fought, endured, and continue to persevere in the fight for equality, and they celebrate with the awareness that advocacy is still needed in the country's pursuit of quality and equity.

To commemorate the holiday, Google has instituted a no meetings day on June 18 and is now encouraging all Googlers to use the day to celebrate, learn, and reflect.

Facebook has stated that its workers can use one of their paid Personal Choice Days if they want to celebrate the holiday, according to CNN.

Employees can also participate in a day of discussions with known activists and public figures, including Tina Knowles-Lawson and Henry Louis Gates, who will share perspectives on the history and significance of Juneteenth.

Meanwhile, Apple said it recognizes the holiday as a company holiday in the United States and gives employees the day off to observe on June 18.

However, Apple Retail and AppleCare will remain open to support the customers. The company stated that the employees could participate in weeklong events that are made to educate, build community, and celebrate.

Storytelling and Education

The tech companies will also give educational material on injustice to employees. Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Microsoft's chief diversity officer, said that their approach is not to offer a vacation day, according to CNBC. 

Instead, the company will use the holiday to create time and space for their employees to understand better the critical topics related to race, ethnicity, and racial injustice. 

McIntyre added that recognizing the day with intention allows the public to stay connected to the many unresolved challenges, violence unaddressed, and inequities unchanged for the Black and the African American community worldwide.

Microsoft did not specify what learning programs they will be offering.

Google said that it is going to host a two-hour event spotlighting Black music history and storytelling, including a conversation and performance by Erykah Badu.

As for Amazon, their programming includes educational panels regarding the origins and importance of Juneteenth, remarks from Black history experts, and performance and Q&A with African American New York dance studio the Alvin Alley American Dance Theater.

Facebook stated that it would feature a video by businesswoman Tina Knowles-Lawson, who is Beyoncé's mother.

Also, a Lift Black Voices Hub will be released and it will include a mix of educational resources, fundraisers, and content that shows how communities are reimagining Black freedom on Facebook platforms.

Amazon will also sponsor an event called Juneteenth Unityfest. Amazon bookstore will feature a selection of books that show the history of Juneteenth in the section called Celebrate Juneteenth. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video has a selection of movies and series to honor Juneteenth.

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Written by Sophie Webster

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