Coffee lovers in Southern California and across the country will find it difficult to get an afternoon cup of coffee at Starbucks on May 29.
The coffee chain announced Tuesday it will close more than 8,000 company-owned stores across the country the afternoon of May 29 to conduct “racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in our stores.”
The move comes in response to a nationwide outcry over the arrests last week of two black men who were sitting in a Philadelphia Starbucks store, despite having done nothing wrong while waiting for a friend. The men were ultimately released.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has called the arrests “reprehensible,” and the company said the employee who called police on the pair no longer works at the store. Johnson met privately with the men on Monday.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” Johnson said Tuesday. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”
According to the company, employees at its stores will undergo training “to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”
Company officials said the curriculum will be developed with the help of national and local experts on confronting racial bias, including officials from the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and the Equal Justice Initiative, along with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.