Juneteenth: Where We Have Come and Where We Go from Here

A day to reflect, celebrate and move the conversation forward around racial injustice

The world has evolved in many ways throughout the course of history. Innovation and technology, for example, have connected us, enabled us, and taken us to the moon and beyond. But these advancements should not obscure our shortcomings in overcoming the racism and discrimination that remain too prevalent in our modern world. 

In the United States, the last enslaved people were finally notified that they were free on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Yet, freedom and justice have continued to be delayed for Black Americans, who have endured maltreatment and racism for more than a century longer. We see this with the unjust deaths of: Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many other names we know and many we will never know. This continued legacy of oppression also manifests in the wealth gap, disparate healthcare treatment, excessive incarceration, inadequate representation and in racist incidents such as the one Christian Cooper experienced in Central Park.

At General Motors, we recognize that the world – and our company – must evolve toward a more equitable future. Our company stands for more than just the products we build and sell.  We stand for the dignity of people, justice, tolerance and inclusion. So, we will use our size, scale, and the collective voice of the entire GM team to stand up for these values.

Within two weeks we took action to:

  • Publicly condemn police brutality, racism, bigotry, discrimination, intolerance and intimidation. Our Chairman and CEO, Mary Barra, also joined nine other corporate and community leaders at Detroit City Hall to declare uncompromising support for equal justice for every American.
  • Pledge $10 million to support organizations promoting racial justice and inclusion. The initial $1 million has been allocated for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the remaining $9 million will be donated to organizations guided by our Employee Resource Groups.
  • Commission an Inclusion Advisory Board, bringing both internal and external leaders together to address the systemic barriers hindering inclusivity, and to identify the resources and funds our company will donate to fighting social injustices until the issues are fully unrooted within our society.

And on June 19, 2020, we recognized and celebrated Juneteenth, which signifies justice and freedom for Black Americans. This day is an important observance that highlights how far we’ve come, yet how far we must go. In recognizing this occasion, we honor the struggles of freedom won and the promise to do more to create diversity, equity and inclusion for marginalized groups in our society.

On Juneteenth, we also observed 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to honor George Floyd’s memory, as well as other Black Americans who lost their lives for nothing more than the color of their skin. This moment is taken as a sign of solidarity with the Black community, but we know that more action is needed. 

As our Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing says in the video below, “Intolerance, discrimination, inequality, racism and injustice have no home here. And we want to do our part to make sure it has no home in our society or community either.” Take a look at Gerald Johnson’s gripping address to the company:

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