Jun 19, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good Friday morning. Today is Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery in America.

  • Sunday is Father's Day.

💻 Today, Axios will host a virtual event in honor of Juneteenth at 12:30 p.m. ET.

  • Markets editor Dion Rabouin will interview Valerie Jarrett, BET co-founder Bob Johnson, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Campaign Zero co-founder DeRay Mckesson.
  • Register here.
1 big thing ... What Matters 2020: Structural racism

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Getty Images

America might finally be summoning the attention and will for change across racial lines to begin to unravel the toxic thread slavery wove into its fabric.

We're making structural racism a focus of our What Matters 2020 initiative, Axios White House and politics editor Margaret Talev writes:

  • This challenge — along with automation, capitalism, climate change, China, demographics, health care costs and misinformation — will outlive the moment, and shape our lives regardless of who wins in November.
  • On Juneteenth, we're committing to cover structural racism beyond this moment, and well beyond the presidential election.

Structural racism is the way racial inequities are locked into our social, economic and political systems.

  • This isn't one story, nor one "moment" in the news cycle. It's fundamental, and permeates every layer of society. But the demonstrations and actions now underway by individuals and institutions can be transformative.
  • We're planning to increase reporting, interviews, data, graphics and conversations around this critical subject across all of our platforms.

The big picture: The coronavirus' racial and socioeconomic disparities, and multiple instances of fatal police violence — especially George Floyd's videotaped killing — have driven millions of Americans of all races to demand better.

What's next:

  • Smart Brevity: We aim to be wise, helpful and efficient, telling you in real time what’s new and why it matters.
  • Survey research: Our weekly Coronavirus Index, in partnership with Ipsos, is tracking the pandemic's health, economic and social impacts on people of color.
  • Newsletter takeovers: Our subject-matter experts will devote significant thought and space to how structural racism intersects with their areas of expertise.
  • Deep Dives: These can help you think big about how the tentacles of this problem fit together.
  • "Axios on HBO": We're bringing you interviews with people who demand — and make — change.
  • Special events: You're invited to join us for virtual or live events.

Share this story, and read more thoughts from our journalists.

2. Protests push more companies to promote voting

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Hundreds of U.S. companies are vowing to give workers paid time off to vote on Election Day — and some are using their technology to help register voters or direct them to polling locations, Axios' Sara Fischer and Courtenay Brown report.

  • Why it matters: Stepping up efforts for Election Day is the latest move by businesses to address demands that corporate America should be doing more to tackle racial injustice.

In the past week:

  • Uber announced that election days will be company holidays in countries around the world.
  • Best Buy said it'll limit store hours on Election Day so each of its roughly 125,000 employees "will have an opportunity to cast a vote in person."
  • Blue Apron announced Election Day will be a paid day off.
  • &pizza said it's closing stores on Election Day to let employees vote.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a USA Today op-ed that the company's 2020 goal is "to help 4 million people register to vote."

The big picture: The protests sweeping the nation around racial inequality have elevated the conversation in America about suppression of black voters. Many corporations are tying their efforts around race to election activism.

  • "Companies realize that taking a stand meaningfully on racial justice also means empowering your voice to vote," said Vote.org's Nora Gilbert.

Share this story.

3. Trump aides argue for overture to African Americans
A man dressed as the border wall was among those lined up in Tulsa yesterday ahead of tomorrow's Trump rally. Photo: Tom McCarthy/AP

Some advisers to President Trump are urging him to lean into Juneteenth during his rally in Tulsa tomorrow, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports.

  • Aides have been looking for ways to give Trump opportunities to hype the policies he believes have helped African Americans during his presidency — including criminal justice reform, support for historically black colleges and universities, and opportunity zones.

The context: Between the pandemic and nationwide protests, Trump is hurting with swing voters who like his policies but hate how he behaves.

  • His handling of the protests and their aftermath — including the incendiary tweet "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" — have damaged his standing with these key voters.
Pic du jour: Confederate portraits removed from Capitol

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Pool via AP

Clerk of the House Cheryl Johnson watches Architect of the Capitol workers remove a portrait of former Speaker James Orr of South Carolina that was hanging near the Speaker's Lobby, adjacent to the House chamber. 

  • Orr, who served as speaker from 1857-59, swore on the House floor to "preserve and perpetuate" slavery, AP writes.

Portraits honoring four former speakers who served in the Confederacy were removed yesterday after Speaker Pelosi declared that the men "embody the violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy."

  • The ornately framed portraits had hung outside the House chamber for decades, barely noticed by lawmakers, staffers and journalists.
4. Court blocks Trump's Dreamers repeal
Dreamers rally outside the Supreme Court yesterday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 yesterday that the Trump administration violated federal law when it ended the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

  • Why it matters, via Axios' Stef Kight: It upholds protections from deportation for roughly 649,000 unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Worth noting: The Trump administration has legal authority to end DACA, but the court found that the way it rescinded the program in 2017 violated federal law.

  • Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court's opinion that the decision to end DACA was "arbitrary and capricious."
Via Twitter

For history ...

5. Klobuchar bows out of veepstakes

Screenshot via MSNBC

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell last night that she has withdrawn herself from consideration as Joe Biden's running mate, believing the former vice president should pick a woman of color.

  • "After what I've seen in my state, after what I've seen across the country, this is a historic moment, and America must seize on this moment. ... If you wanna heal this nation right now, ... this is sure a hell of a way to do it."

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Alexi McCammond: Shortly after George Floyd’s killing, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told "Axios on HBO" that the timing was bad for Klobuchar.

  • Her statement last night served as an attempt at healing with her relationship with the African American community, allowing her to bow out with grace.
6. New national poll overnight

Screenshot via MSNBC

7. NFL's top doc: 2020 won't see "football as usual"

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The NFL's chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, told Kendall Baker for the daily Axios Sports newsletter (sign up here) that he's "very optimistic" about the league's season taking place this year — but cautioned that it won't be "football as usual."

  • "There are going to be a lot of changes in the way that we do things, from how we practice, to how we lay out our facilities, to how we travel, to how we organize sidelines and the on-field experience."

The bottom line: "One of our athletic trainers probably expressed it best when he said, 'It's not going to feel normal because it's not going to be normal.'"

8. Bezos' vision coming true faster than ever
Courtesy The Economist

The pandemic has fueled "a digital surge that shows how important Amazon is to ordinary life in America and Europe, because of its crucial role in e-commerce, logistics and cloud computing," The Economist writes in its cover editorial (subscription).

Next month, The Economist continues in an accompanying article, "Amazon will turn 9,500 days old. But for Jeff Bezos, the company's founder and chief executive, it is always 'Day 1.'"

  • "Amazon, he has insisted since its founding in 1994, must forever behave like a feisty startup: innovate aggressively and expand relentlessly."

Why it matters: "Adherence to this rule has made Amazon as convenient to consumers as it is feared by businesses which stand in its way."

9. Data du jour: Fortune 100 pledges
Data: Fortune 500, Axios analysis of company statements. Get the data. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon, Naema Ahmed/Axios

Fortune 100 companies' donations to battle racism and inequality now total more than $2 billion from 50 firms, Dion Rabouin, Andrew Witherspoon and Naema Ahmed write in Axios Markets.

PepsiCo chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta wrote to colleagues yesterday: "We are committed to this work because we know the American society has placed the burden disproportionately on Black people. Injustice and inequality are problems for us all, and we all must do our part to defeat them."

10. 1 smile to go: Bob Dylan's new "classic"

Dylan in 2015. Photo: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images

Bob Dylan's new album, "Rough and Rowdy Ways," is "an absolute classic" that shows the Nobel Prize winner still "is exploring terrain nobody else has reached before," according to Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield.

Dylan, who turned 79 last month, granted a rare, lengthy interview to the New York Times — touching on everything from Little Richard to Indiana Jones — and shared his secret for moving forward:

  • "I like to think of the mind as spirit and the body as substance. How you integrate those two things, I have no idea. I just try to go on a straight line and stay on it, stay on the level."
In 1969, Dylan, then 27, sings "I Threw It All Away" during a taping for the first episode of "The Johnny Cash Show" at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Photo: Jimmy Ellis/The Tennessean via Reuters
Mike Allen

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