Pharrell Williams, Kenya Barris, Ellen DeGeneres Launch Juneteenth Pledge

Along with CNN’s Van Jones, the group met virtually with CEOs from dozens of Fortune 500 companies as it pushes to make Juneteenth a paid holiday in the U.S.

On the heels of nationwide racial justice protests, four familiar faces have banded together to ensure history is not forgotten.

Pharrell Williams, Ellen DeGeneres, Kenya Barris and CNN’s Van Jones have launched what they are billing The Juneteenth Pledge to ensure Juneteenth—the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of slavery’s ending in the U.S—becomes a paid holiday in the U.S. They’re joined by international advocacy organizations Global Citizen and global CEO advisory firm Teneo in their massive effort to rally the private sector to observe the day.

News of the initiative comes after a June 26th virtual call that the group held with dozens of CEO and top executives from major corporations across the country. Williams opened and closed what is said to have been an emotional call, with Barris and Jones also speaking at length. Those who participated and agreed to the pledge include leaders from adidas, Airbnb, Amblin Partners, Greensill, HP, Participant, The J. M. Smucker Company, Starbucks and Under Armour.

The pledge calls on companies to not only declare Juneteenth a paid holiday for stateside employees but also to identify a relevant day in international offices to recognize the emancipation of enslaved people in their respective counties. Additionally, those who pledge are urged to encourage other leaders in business to do the same and to support their employees’ ability to learn, reflect and respect all cultures.


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