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Oprah declares Election Day a holiday at her company

Oprah Winfrey urges her employees to cast their votes on their day off.

Oprah Winfrey Themba Hadebe/AP/Shutterstock

With stakes high in the 2020 election, Oprah Winfrey is doing her part to ensure both she and her employees have nothing in their way of voting.

Today ( Aug. 20), on the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote, she announced that Election Day will be a full paid day off at the Oprah Winfrey Network. The holiday will apply to national and presidential elections like the upcoming one on Nov. 3.

Winfrey made her decision “in honor of those who fought and continue to fight for our rights,” but also hopes it would encourage her employees to vote. “This will give my team the necessary time to put on their masks, get to the polls, cast their ballots, and volunteer,” she captioned her Instagram post, before urging other organizations to follow suit. “I challenge other companies to do the same because this might be the most important election of our lives. Together we can overcome all obstacles in order to exercise our right to vote.”

Winfrey’s efforts to get people to the polls go beyond her recent Instagram post. She recently launched her voting initiative OWN Your Vote that is specifically designed for the Black women. The campaign, which she describes as bipartisan and pro-social, is committed to “connecting them to urgent political actions, giving their concerns a powerful microphone, and placing a spotlight on key community issues.”

In recent months, Winfrey has also used her platform to bring light to social justice issues. One hundred and fifty days after Breonna Taylor was tragically gunned down in her home, she purchased 26 billboards to demand that the police involved in killing Breonna Taylor be arrested and charged.

“If not for the Coronavirus, I’d be out in these streets, marching with the Black Lives Matter protesters,” she said. “These 26 billboards — one for every year of Breonna’s life — are my offering; my form of protest.”

“We cannot be silent,” she added. “We have to use whatever megaphone we have to cry for justice.

Following the death of George Floyd, Winfrey also hosted a two-night special about racism entitled “OWN Spotlight: Where Do We Go From Here?”

“I’ve been having private conversations with friends and thought leaders about what’s next and where we go from here,” Winfrey told Variety about the event. “I thought it would be both of interest and service to bring their ideas, concerns and comments into a national spotlight.”

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