Starbucks to close all stores for afternoon of racial-bias education

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One of two men arrested at Starbucks for alleged trespassing; the two men hadn't placed an order while they were waiting for another man to arrive. Photo: (Melissa DePino / Twitter)

PHILADELPHIA — Starbucks announced it will be closing its more than 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States on the afternoon of May 29 to conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in their stores.

According to a news release, training will be provided to nearly 175,000 employees across the country, and will become part of the onboarding process for new employees.

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“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,” said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. “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.”

Johnson met with the two black men who were arrested in a Philadelphia store last week.

A Starbucks spokeswoman confirmed the meeting happened Monday but declined to give any details. A lawyer for the men did not immediately return messages for comment.



Johnson, who called the arrests “reprehensible,” had said that he wanted to apologize to the men face-to-face.

Video shows several police talking quietly with two black men seated at a table. After a few minutes, officers handcuff the men and lead them outside as other customers say they weren’t doing anything wrong; Philadelphia-area media reported the two had been waiting for a friend.

When Starbucks company-owned retail stores and corporate offices close on the afternoon of May 29, employees will go through a training program designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, and prevent discrimination.

The curriculum will be developed with guidance from several national and local experts confronting racial bias, including Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Heather McGhee, president of Demos; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; and Jonathan Greenblatt, ceo of the Anti-Defamation League.