General Motors will observe an 8 minute, 46 second period of silence this Friday, June 19th in support of the black community and the Black Lives Matter movement.
June 19th is known as “Juneteenth” and marks the end of slavery in the United States. The 8 minute, 46-second time frame is equivalent to the amount of time that a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd on May 25th before he died. According to The Detroit Free Press, some GM employees will observe the Juneteenth silence at 8:46 a.m., while employees on the night shift will do so at 8:46 p.m.
GM President Mark Reuss informed employees of the company-wide plan to observe a silent period in a memo sent out this week.
“I really believe eight-plus minutes of solid reflection will benefit everyone,” Reuss said in the memo. “I’m sure many of you have felt the same glut of emotions I have while watching recent events unfold … disbelief, anger, shame, grief, and ultimately heartbreak. This is not who we are as humankind, nor as a country.”
GM also released a public statement on the matter this week in which it reiterated its goal to become the world’s most inclusive company.
“This Friday, June 19, we’re asking the General Motors team to observe 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence as a sign of solidarity with the Black community and our support of the struggle against continuing racial injustice. Our aim is to be the world’s most inclusive company and we see this is as a another powerful way to remind everyone of our values and our goals.”
Earlier this month, GM pledged to donate $10 million to “support organizations that promote inclusion and racial justice,” $1 million of which will benefit the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. GM CEO Mary Barra also established an Inclusion Advisory Board that will look to address inclusion and equality within the company. Barra sent a letter out to employees announcing the new board, as well, which addressed the recent protests in the United States and abroad.
“In this moment, we each must decide what we can do – individually and collectively – to drive change… meaningful, deliberate change,” she wrote in the letter. “As one of the largest global companies, there is much we can do.”