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On Friday, the six employees of the Design Museum Everywhere, which has offices in Boston and Portland, Ore., will be given the day off to celebrate Juneteenth, making it one of a growing list of nonprofits that will formally mark slavery’s end with a holiday.

For the past two years, the virtual museum’s staff has undergone training to raise awareness of racism in the design field and American society.

The killings by police of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and the national protests that came in response made that work more urgent, said Sam Aquillano, the museum’s executive director. A small thing he could do in response, he said, was to give employees Juneteenth off. In a blog post, he suggested employees take the day to reflect on racism in America, support Black-owned businesses, or take action in support of racial justice. He provided a list of organizations to donate to, books to read, and films to watch on the subject.

“I can ask them to read a book on anti-racism, but if I’m not going to give them the actual time to do it, then it’s kind of hollow,” he said. “I have the power as a white person and as an executive director to do this.”

Growing Participation

Juneteenth is not a national holiday, but a large number of nonprofits, foundations, and other organizations are giving employees a paid day off, including Candid, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, Council on Foundations, the Kapor Center, Network for Good, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and Southern California Grantmakers. Grant makers including the Ford, Kresge, and MacArthur foundations have also given employees Friday off.

Companies giving employees the day off include Netflix, Ralph Lauren, and Target, according to Hella Juneteenth, a group tracking corporate responses. Bandcamp, a music website, is donating the proceeds of all of its music streams Friday to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

At Ford, the idea of a Juneteenth holiday was suggested in a regularly scheduled employee discussion group last week. On Monday, Diane Samuels, the grant maker’s vice president for people and culture, presented it at a meeting of Ford’s executive leadership. She didn’t need to persuade anyone, she said, and an annual holiday was approved unanimously.

In her experience, celebrations of Juneteenth amounted to “the least well-attended parade.” She said the fact that so many organizations are celebrating Juneteenth, regardless of whether they are led by white or Black people, gives her hope for the country.

“The ending of slavery in the United States is a significant thing for all of us, not just for Black people,” she said.

Throughout the day, MacArthur plans to promote Illinois’s Black Census Day, an effort to boost participation in the decennial count. The foundation’s president, John Palfrey asked staff volunteers to serve on a committee to rethink vacation days, including whether to give employees a day or partial day off for Election Day, whether a day off for Juneteenth should be made permanent, and whether a day off for what used to be called Columbus Day should be continued.

The Denver Foundation announced the creation of the Black Resilience in Colorado Fund, which has a goal of making $1 million to $2 million a year in grants to groups led by and serving Black or African immigrant and refugee populations.
The fund has been in development for some time, but the foundation decided to introduce it this week in celebration of Juneteenth. The fund will support efforts to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on Black people in the Denver area and to respond to instances of racial violence. Denver African American Philanthropists, a men’s giving circle, and Mile High United Way have also contributed to the fund.

On Friday, RespectAbility, a nonprofit that supports people with disabilities, will host an online training for employees with Kerrien Suarez, director of Equity in the Center, a group that promotes equity in philanthropy. RespectAbility will also release a fact sheet on race and disability that shows that people of color who are disabled often face “double discrimination,” said Jennifer Laszlo Misrahi, the group’s president. Other than the training session, RespectAbility employees will have the day off.

The Jewish Federations of North America will be open for business on Friday, but the group is providing an online discussion of race in America.

“There is not a corner of America that is not having a conversation on racial justice,” said Rebecca Dinar, a spokeswoman for the federation. “We’re going to start by listening.”

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to the Design Museum Everywhere as the Design Everywhere Museum.

Source of original article:John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (
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