Starting this year, Nike will observe Juneteenth (June 19) as a company holiday that will give employees paid time off, according to a memo first obtained by Forbes and confirmed by multiple reports.
Juneteenth is a day used to commemorate the end of slavery on June 19, 1865. On that day, Union soldiers told enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and they were free.
It is not an official national holiday.
Nike joins Twitter, the NFL and Square among others who will now observe the holiday. The decision came from new Nike CEO John Donahoe, who took over his new role in January.
“When we say that Black Lives Matter, it applies to the world outside of Nike and, importantly, it applies to our Black teammates within Nike. Simply put, we need to hold ourselves to a high standard given the heritage of our company and our brand,” Donohoe said in the company-wide memo.
The sports apparel brand also pledged $40 million to support the Black community and the Nike-backed Jordan Brand promised an additional $100 million. This move was sparked by the national protests and civil unrest against racial injustice and the death of Black man George Floyd.
Nike, who is also a longstanding supporter of Colin Kaepernick, also unveiled a new "Don't Do It" campaign to address racism in the United States in the wake of Floyd's death.