RICHMOND, Va. -- The Altria Group announced Friday a $5 million donation to address systemic racism and fight racial inequality.
The Richmond-based company and maker of Marlboro cigarettes, said the donation is an initial commitment to advance social and economic equity.
“These are difficult times, and we must find ways to embrace our differences, address underlying systemic issues and move forward as a country,” said Billy Gifford, Altria’s Chief Executive Officer. “We know we don’t have all the answers, but we will learn by listening to our diverse colleagues, community members and others as we seek progress within our company and the places we call home.”
The group says the fund will be used to support national and Richmond-area organizations, as well as provide immediate support to small businesses in the Richmond region recently impacted by vandalism.
The company also voiced support for the removal of Confederate monuments in Richmond. Governor Ralph Northam announced Thursday the Lee statue will be removed from Monument Avenue as soon as possible.
Altria also announced a company-wide paid “Day of Healing” on Juneteenth (June 19) also known as Freedom Day, which celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States.
The group says the day will allow employees time for personal reflection and healing.