This Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, photo, shows Starbucks mugs in a cafe in North Andover, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Starbucks will close its company-owned restaurants in the U.S. during the afternoon of May 29 to conduct a racial-bias education program following the arrest of two Black men at a Philadelphia location.

Nearly 175,000 employees at 8,000 of Starbucks’ U.S.-based locations will participate in the training program aimed at helping to prevent discrimination.

“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,” Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a statement Tuesday. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being 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.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the April 12 arrests of the two Black men who were waiting on an associate at the Philadelphia store. After the manager refused to let one of them use the restroom without making a purchase, the two said they sat and waited for just minutes before the manager called police to remove them.

Starbucks said the manager, who is White, is no longer with the company.

“We will learn from our mistakes and reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and welcoming environment for every customer,” Howard Schultz, Starbucks executive chairman, said in a statement.

Starbucks will be working with Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and other social activist leaders to create the program.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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