February 8, 2024
BHM ‘24: Highlighting Black Stories and Businesses
As we embark on Black History Month 2024, we are taking a break from regular scheduled programming to shed light on the initiatives we are taking as a company to celebrate and stand in solidarity with the Black community. We recognize how instrumental the contributions the Black community has had on society as a whole as well as the marginalization that persists in many social spheres including business. We don’t want important commemorations like this to pass without showing our support in tangible ways that can be built upon and reinforced year-round. In this article, we will touch on the history of this month-long celebration and the ways we are choosing to participate in this special occasion.
Black History is American History
Although this is likely a no-brainer to many of us, this fact has not always been readily accepted in mainstream society. There are many points throughout our history and, unfortunately, our present, where systemic prejudice and discrimination are used to suppress Black stories and voices. While this marginalization has spawned countless harrowing tales, it has also sparked a plethora of awe-inspiring works of art and activism that we must continually honor when we reflect on historical moments that impact us contemporarily. Thus, celebrations like Black History Month (BHM) were born.
Opening up space for such stories to be front and center was no easy feat, but it was well worth it. Notable Black historian and activist, Carter G. Woodson was the progenitor of what we celebrate today as Black History Month. In 1926, Woodson founded the first Negro History Week in hopes of bringing more light to Black stories. This initiative was timed around Fredrick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays to commemorate their contributions to the American fight for freedom. Woodson would not live to see President Ford’s decision to extend this week into a month of celebrating the accomplishments of Black figures as fixtures in American history in 1976, but the legacy he left behind will never be forgotten.
Uplifting Black Stories
Today, BHM is all about making a special effort to center Black voices across different kinds of mediums while also reflecting on the strides that need to be made to make our society a truly equitable space for Black communities. Our office has joined this celebration by highlighting moments in our history–both recent and distant–where Black creators, thinkers, change-makers, and the like have made an insurmountable impact on the Black community and society as a whole. This is our way of educating our team members and centering the stories of people we have to thank for their efforts to tear down centuries of hatred and oppression and usher in an era of tolerance and equitability.
So far, we have learned about milestones from the origins of BHM to legislation that protects one’s right to express their culture through hair. We are excited to learn more throughout the month in hopes that this will spark much-needed conversations and unlock even more learning opportunities in the future.
Supporting Black Businesses
We have thoroughly enjoyed highlighting Black historical moments so far, but we don’t want to just talk about being supportive, we want to be about it! This year, we are putting our money where our mouth is. To find creative ways to show our support for the Black community that will have a tangible impact, our human resources manager came up with a plan to patronize Black businesses for our office catering throughout the month of February.
Our in-office lunches give us a chance to support the businesses in our local community while also allowing us to gather and break bread with each other as we take a break from the day’s work. While we love our weekly lunch staples (shoutout to Sweetgreen), we decided to take our business to Black-owned restaurants so we can show up for our compatriots in a palpable way.
Marginalized groups do not get the same access or exposure that large corporations do so we’re making an effort to give them their chance to shine.
In conclusion, we are wishing the Black community and everyone in solidarity with them a Happy Black History Month! We urge you to continue to educate yourself and do whatever you can to support and uplift members of this community this month and every month.