Starbucks Coffee Company announced today that it is closing all of its stores on May 29 to conduct training designed to prevent discrimination and address racial bias. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill will join a team of local and national experts, including Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Heather McGhee, President of Demos; Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League; and former U.S. Attorney General and LDF Board Member Eric Holder to develop the training curriculum and monitor the effectiveness of the company’s policy and training measures.
LDF released the following statement from Sherrilyn Ifill regarding the Starbucks announcement:
“Being treated with respect and dignity at a place of public accommodation is an essential aspect of full citizenship. The reality is that most Black Americans regularly face the indignities of being treated with suspicion, asked to pre-pay for service or denied service altogether, or told they cannot use a store bathroom. That reality was underscored in stark terms last week, when two Black men went to a Starbucks in Philadelphia for a meeting, only to be arrested and spend hours in police custody. The shocking discrimination they endured reflects the dual reality for many Black people who suffer both from race discrimination by retailers and racial profiling by law enforcement.
“Starbucks has expressed its intention to take seriously this critical effort and to work long-term to fulfill its obligation to ensure that all customers are afforded dignity and respect in its public spaces. This will take work. Starbucks must make clear that it does not tolerate any racial profiling or discrimination of any kind in its stores, and it must identify and implement concrete and measurable steps to keep itself accountable to that commitment.
“LDF has long worked to eradicate race discrimination against customers by retailers. This work is the legacy of this nation’s civil rights laws which were designed to attack discrimination in public spaces – schools, transportation, public accommodations – and to protect the dignity of communities of color in these spaces. Working with Starbucks to design a training curriculum, and to implement the additional measures necessary to identify and remedy the racial discrimination and bias exhibited in this incident, and others like it, furthers that work.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.