MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Thousands of Mid-South coffee lovers will have to find something other than their Starbucks pick-me-up Tuesday afternoon. More than 8,000 company-owned Starbucks stores and offices across the country will shut down for part of the day.
The stores are closing for a nationwide training to fight racial bias. If you remember, back in April, two African-American men were arrested at a Starbucks store in Philadelphia while waiting on an acquaintance to arrive for a business meeting.
On April 12th, the men initially asked to use the bathroom at the Starbucks while they waited for the business meeting but were told it was for paying customers only. They then sat a table without making a purchase, which is what some choose to do when they go to Starbucks. Shortly after, a manager called police after the men declined to leave.
The situation led to Starbucks diversity training Tuesday. More than 8,000 of their stores will close starting at 2:00 p.m. and will remain closed for the rest of the day. Each store will receive a tool kit for workers to learn together in small self-guided groups.
This first training will focus on understanding racial bias and the history of public accommodations in the United States, with future sessions addressing all aspects of bias and experiences.
"The training is a first start, to something that can be beautiful in America. Starbucks is an international conglomerate. They have the money, and the wherewithal that they can make a difference in African-American life," says customer James Abram.
It's important to note, most of Starbucks' 7,000 licensed stores, like those operated by major grocery stores, hotels, universities, and airports, are expected to stay open.
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