Like many companies around the Bay Area, the Giants gave their employees the day off Friday in observance of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves on June 19, 1865. It's part of a continued push in recent weeks to be more supportive of the Black community and a movement that has swept the nation and is still going strong in the Bay Area.
When protests first started forming in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed in Minneapolis police custody, the organization held a Zoom call that included nearly 500 participants and focused on racism and what the Giants could do to promote greater diversity. Since then, the organization has told employees that donations to causes will be matched, and first-year manager Gabe Kapler backed his public statements about Black Lives Matter by recently providing his support for a local Black-owned restaurant.
Last Tuesday, Kapler ordered lunch for the UCSF emergency room staffers from Tastebuds, a Black-owned restaurant in the Inner Richmond. Kapler worked with owner Helen Simmons to deliver 50 lunches to a hospital staff that has been dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks for months.
"Black-owned businesses are vital in our communities, and everything I’ve read and heard from Black people directly is that patronizing these businesses is an action step we can take right now to demonstrate support," Kapler told NBC Sports Bay Area. "These businesses are valuable for not just what they offer to the Black community but for what they bring to every neighborhood. The more diverse we are, the better we all are for it.
"I believe to truly get behind the concept of Black Lives Matter is to use our voices on social media and elsewhere to amplify the voices of Black people, then translate it into tangible support that can make a difference for individuals one step at a time."
Kapler has been particularly vocal on social media, with several players also speaking up in recent weeks, including Hunter Pence, Brandon Crawford, Trevor Gott, Tyler Heineman and prospect Hunter Bishop. General manager Scott Harris expressed his support on the Giants' YouTube show on the eve of last week's MLB draft:
Kapler has said he will encourage "difficult conversations" in the clubhouse, noting in a recent Instagram post that "racism, sexism, homophobia" and inequality are issues the baseball industry needs to confront. The Giants tried to accelerate that process with their initial call, which started with remarks by president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. Team president and CEO Larry Baer later said on KNBR that the call was "extremely powerful."
"At least for our organization, we need to listen, we need to learn and then take action," Baer said.
[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]