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Honoring Black History Month

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[et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”]Black History is undoubtedly American History, a powerful legacy to be celebrated today and every day, across age and race lines. But this month especially, we recognize the lives, struggles, innovations, triumphs, complexities and excellence across generations of Black Americans. February offers a focused opportunity to honor the unique journey and groundbreaking contributions of a community whose legacy has been integral to the wealth, culture and fabric of both the United States and Canada. (Ireland and the United Kingdom observe Black History Month in October, while other countries hold events throughout the year.) Brands and marketers are likewise taking part via campaigns and targeted activations. Here’s what you need to know.

Campaigns to Care About
Following the success of a 2019 “Go Back to Africa” campaign that garnered national attention and won multiple awards, travel and lifestyle brand Black & Abroad just released a new project that visualizes Black culture as a map of the United States. The “Black Elevation Map” includes specially curated guides of Black-owned wineries (“Melanin Vines”), restaurants famous for their civil rights involvement (“Civil Bites”) and compilations of Black-run startup companies (“Black Silicon Valley). “We wanted to help Black travelers see the country in a way that prioritizes and celebrates the contributions of folks who look like us—and facilitates travel choices that deepen engagement within our community,” said Eric Martin, Black & Abroad co-founder. “Repurposing a traditional elevation map is a way for us to weave joy and uplift into the story, the experience and our interpretation of the data.” Although the data compiled to create this map presents only a small fraction of Black culture, it’s intended to spark important, longer-lasting conversations. An accompanying 60-second film called “A Hymn Away from Home” combines scenes shot at over 30 Black-owned businesses across the country with iconic scenery and original poetry written by Jasmine Mans, author of Black Girl, Call Home.

Another hard-hitting film from studio Stelo Stories and Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History tells the life of Olaudah Equiano, a young boy who was kidnapped and enslaved in 1756. Equiano.Stories, which premiered February 16, imagines that experience as though it was captured by an iPhone and shared on social media. Totaling 80 minutes of content, the film unfolds via 400 individual stories posted on Instagram, showing Equiano’s journey from a happy boy living in a village with his family, to the terror of being abducted, to the horror of life aboard a slave ship. In real life, Equiano bought his freedom at age 20 and moved to London, where in 1789 he published a bestselling memoir about his experience. That account was instrumental to ending slavery in England, and it remains one of the only firsthand documents of its kind written by an African author. “The goal of this film is to connect Equiano with his 21st century peers through Instagram and share a Black history story that starts with freedom, not enslavement,” said Adi Kochavi, co-founder of Stelo Stories.

Notable Women
Beloved Black lifestyle magazine Ebony delivered its final print issue in 2019, before joining many other publications forced to give up their physical editions due to the prohibitive cost, and turn totally digital. But in honor of Black History Month and the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which fell on February 11, Ebony paired with Procter & Gamble’s Olay brand to print a special commemorative issue featuring Black women scientists, tech developers and leaders in the fields of math and engineering. Drawing attention to these women is important, because while they’ve contributed to some of the most significant advancements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), women comprise less than 27 percent of that workforce. The magazine cover line reads “Beauty and Brains,” while articles within celebrate historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), review the Atlanta tech scene and feature a letter addressed to the next generation of STEM leaders from Doctor Kizzmekia Corbett, one of the Covid-19 vaccine developers. With this and other related initiatives, Olay has pledged to triple the number of women of color in STEM by 2030.

Brands Buy In
Around the country, manufacturers, sporting organizations, shops, restaurants and a diverse range of companies are likewise celebrating Black History Month with thoughtful product offerings and programs. Target’s “Black Beyond Measure” marketing campaign features Black designers and entrepreneurs responsible for creating a range of bestselling apparel and accessories, including beauty products, home decor, music, toys and more. A special line of T-shirts uses cotton sourced from Bridgeforth Farms, owned by the fifth generation of a single Black family. “This year we invested and partnered with more Black artists, designers, brands and even farms than ever before to bring the assortment to life,” said Target design director Tawnya Artisst.

From commerce to sports, the Brooklyn Nets did their part to commemorate this important month via a series of activations during each of the team’s five home games played at Barclays Center in February. Black pioneers from the past were honored during game one, while groundbreaking achievements made by Black healthcare workers received attention at the second home game, played on Valentine’s Day. HBCUs, Gospel singers and “Black pioneers of the future” are among the additional features of this event that combines culture with athletics. Hoping you all had a happy and rewarding Black History Month![/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]