SAN FRANCISCO - Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square, said Tuesday that Juneteenth will be honored as a company holiday “forevermore,” the latest effort by tech companies to honor black Americans as the country reckons with police brutality and racial prejudice.
In a statement on Twitter, Dorsey called it “a day for celebration, education, and connection.”
“Countries and regions around the world have their own days to celebrate emancipation, and we will do the work to make those dates company holidays everywhere we are present,” Dorsey wrote.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey speaks during a press event at CES 2019 at the Aria Resort & Casino on January 9, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
Juneteenth, which is celebrated on June 19, is considered the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.
It was on that date in 1865 that Union soldiers told enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and that they were free. Although the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the South in 1863, it could not be enforced in many places until after the end of the Civil War in 1865.
Kayvon Beykpour, product lead at Twitter, said he was “proud” to work at the company.
“Juneteenth should be a national holiday,” Beykpour wrote. “In the absence of that, I hope other companies follow in order to honor and celebrate this important part of our history.”
Vox Media, a news and opinion site, will also observe the date as a company holiday, according to the Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Mullins.
“We hope employees can use the day in your own way for reflection and action as well as a mental break from work,” CEO Jim Bankoff wrote in a memo to employees.
Other tech companies have voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement and protests for racial justice following the death of George Floyd. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian resigned from the company's board and urged his colleagues to fill the seat with a black candidate.
Dorsey previously pledged $3 million to Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, which works to educate, empower and mobilize young people in black and brown communities.
As Twitter and other social media companies work to speak out against racial violence in the U.S., they have also faced a swirling debate about when and how much these companies should police the content on their platforms.
Republicans have often accused Google, Facebook and Twitter of censoring conservative voices, a claim the companies have repeatedly denied.
In May, Twitter applied fact checks to two of President Donald Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots and later added a warning to one of his tweets saying he violated the platform’s rules by glorifying violence when he suggested protesters in Minneapolis could be shot.
President Donald Trump later signed an executive order aimed at discouraging social media companies from censoring posts.
This story was reported from Cincinnati.