Twitter and digital payments company Square have made June 19 a company holiday, commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of both companies, tweeted the news on Tuesday, placing Twitter and Square among the few that offer workers a paid day off for what’s known as Juneteenth. It marks the date—June 19, 1865—when Union soldiers read the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order ending slavery, to black slaves.
Dorsey’s decision comes as the Black Lives Matter movement fuel protests nationwide for racial justice following the recent death of black Minneapolis resident George Floyd after a police officer kneeled on his neck. Many business leaders have expressed solidarity with the protests and have pledged money to civil rights groups.
Twitter, for example, updated its profile by changing its signature bright blue bird to the color black and adding the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter to its description. Dorsey also donated $3 million to former NFL quarterback Colin Kapernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, which is aimed at helping young people learn about higher education, self-empowerment, and interacting with law enforcement.
At the same time, Twitter is grappling with how to deal with inflammatory comments by President Trump, who has gone on the attack against the protest movement and anything related. For the first time recently, the company obscured one of Trump’s tweets in which he said, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” by hiding it behind a warning that said the tweet had violated Twitter’s policy against “glorifying violence.”
But on Tuesday, Twitter left untouched a tweet by Trump that suggested a Buffalo, NY protester, who was severely injured after being shoved to the ground by police, “could be an ANTIFA” provocateur. Twitter said the comments did not break the rules.
Dorsey said that Twitter and Square, which both operate internationally, plan to also mark the Juneteenth celebration in other countries, on dates related to emancipation in those locations.
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