On June 19, in support of a day that has become a holiday or day of remembrance in 46 of the 50 U.S. states, and in support of the African-American community, GM (General Motors) will pause production in its U.S. plants for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
This time, need we remind you, is equivalent to the amount of time former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on George Floyd's neck, with fatal results. As for the date of June 19th, known as Juneteenth, it was on that day in 1865 in Galveston, Texas, that Major General Gordon Granger read aloud the federal order freeing all slaves in the state, officially ending the institution of slavery in the United States.
A message sent to employees on Tuesday by GM President Mark Reuss stated this:
"We ask 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 for the ongoing fight against racial injustice. Our goal is to be the most inclusive company in the world and we see this as another powerful way to remind everyone of our values and goals.”
- Mark Reuss, Gm President
Workers on that day’s first two shifts will begin their production breaks at 8:46 a.m. and 8:46 p.m. respectively. Third-shift workers will determine their own observation time, as will employees abroad. GM also invited its administrative employees to participate.
This is the latest in a series of measures adopted by GM - already one of only two manufacturers on the 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 list - to support the black community since the death of George Floyd. Among other steps, GM CEO Mary Barra has committed to creating an advisory committee on inclusion, and the company has pledged $10 million to causes working to "end discrimination through inclusion and racial justice”.
Mark Reuss concluded his message with the following: "We are at our best when we remember who we are as a company, and when we take care of one another… This is an opportunity to remember that, and celebrate it, and use it as a stepping-stone on the path forward toward the kind of change that will make the world a better place for all."
The Inclusion Advisory Board will be comprised of internal and external leaders and will begin operations at the end of the quarter. Its goal is to inspire GM to be "the most inclusive society in the world".