How Your Business Can Participate in Black History Month

Why the month is so important

The significance of Black History Month has grown every year since it was officially recognized by President Ford in 1976. Every February is a chance to celebrate the victories won while criticizing the current state of inequality and formulate plans to end injustice in America. 

 

While President Ford officially dedicated the month to the long road to freedom that is still being navigated by Black Americans, the history goes back further than this declaration. It was way back in 1922 when the famed Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson launched ‘Negro History Week,’ the precursor of Black History Month.

 

The week Woodson chose was because it coincided with Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays, 12th and 16th February respectively. 

 

We continue to celebrate these iconic figures who battled for the civil rights of Black Americans as well as contemporary figures such as President Obama. From former slave to President of the country, we can be proud of the progress that has occurred in our country. 

 

It’s through accomplishments such as these that we can be optimistic that future textbooks can be centered on Black achievements rather than sacrifices.

Notable recent events such as the murder of George Floyd combined with the continued prominence and necessity of movements such as Black Lives Matter show that Black History Month isn’t a static representation of yesterday, but a constant, living thing that is shaped by all of our actions. 

 

That’s why Black History Month is so important. We must educate ourselves and the next generation about the stains that have blotched the history of America to outrage us into continuing the fight for true equality.

 

Us businesses need to maximize our commitments to the Month so we can prove our companies are dedicated to eradicating racism and that our fight for justice is more than empty words. To help, DGW Branded has some ideas so continue reading to find out what you can do to educate employees about the past and prove the powers we have in shaping the future.

The fight is far from over. Let’s learn how we can all come together to end injustice now

Learn About Noteworthy Black Figures and Their Contributions

If we want to strive for a more prosperous future, first we must understand the past. We have to celebrate those who sacrificed their lives to allow us to break new ground in our journey to the summit. 

 

Creating a more prosperous future doesn’t happen overnight. Nor can we expect lessons to be learned without studying the past to understand how these occurred and why. Every American must be fully aware of those who sacrificed their lives in their vision of a more inclusive, equitable United States. Our journey to the top of the mountain is far from over yet it’s thanks to generations of icons who have helped to push us to the peak. 

 

Some icons are as quintessential to America as the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty. Figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King will be rightly heralded for as long as the United States is a country. While such heroes can never be praised highly enough for their commitments to a better world, let it be noted that they did not do it alone. 

 

Let’s pay homage to the bravery and influence of icons such as Harriet Tubman and Angela Davis, who were as instrumental as anybody in redefining the concept of America. A productive way of celebrating the month is to ask employees to speak about a Black hero that has been an inspiration to their own lives. That way, lesser-known Black heroes can once again be heralded for their achievements, as well as making this a personal homage to unite employees.

Furthermore, let’s also accept that these heroes were only made such by the countless number of ordinary people that made their proclamations possible. While Rosa Parks inspired the bus boycotts, it was thousands of Black Americans who forced the segregation of buses to be abolished through the actions they took. Likewise, the actions President Lincoln took to abolish slavery was only able to be forced into law by Union soldiers, including thousands of Black soldiers fighting for their fellow man. While figures such as Barack Obama are one in a million, it takes the rest of us to put their words into action.

It takes an army to fight, not just a leader who organizes

Donate to Anti-Racism charities

The pen is mightier than the sword but the dollar bill has the greatest power of all. Prove that your business takes genuine action in the continued fight against racism by making financial donations to charities such as Black Lives Matter and SARI. These are great places to start if we want our businesses to take a strong stance of being actively anti-racist rather than being the most passive, non-racist. Maya Angelou once declared, “the truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody’s free.” 

 

If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that the fight for justice is far from over and we should never take for granted the fragility of the rights that we’ve fought for. Let’s take voting as an example. While the Civil Rights era of the 1960s finally allowed every American the right to vote, we’re seeing that this isn’t something that is guaranteed forever. Once again, voting restrictions, while perhaps more racially subtle than the ‘Literacy Test’ of prior generations, are nevertheless proving that we can never rest on our laurels of what has been accomplished. 

 

As we’re seeing voting restrictions target predominantly African-American communities we once again have to ask ourselves if we’re not on the side of the oppressed, whose side are we on? 

 

Giving everyone an equal chance will help lessen poverty, create jobs and drive success

Participate in online events

If there’s one thing we’re not lacking in America, it’s museums. There are over 33,000 of them in America, the most in the world (second on the list is Germany with a paltry 6,200!) There are some amazing museums dedicated to the history and triumphs of African Americans such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. and San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora. While visiting these in person would be a brilliant day for employees to learn about the history of Black America, we understand that COVID is severely impacting our ability to travel and big crowds aren’t something we can recommend. Even at the best of times, the geographical locations are physically out of reach depending on where you are in the country. But don’t despair! Some incredible online events are available and should be something every company encourages to further educate employees on figures and events that have taken place from slavery to Black Lives Matter. 

 

There are lots of events that we believe are essential in raising awareness of recognizing the history and culture of Black Americans. A couple that we found particularly beneficial to our team is NAACP DeKalb – “Virtual” Black History Month Program (Feb 12, 3 PM) and Black History Month Nia Jam (Feb 26, 6 PM). 

 

We encourage attending these events and participating in these events. These are just a couple of suggestions, we highly encourage visiting Eventbrite’s full page dedicated to Events That Celebrate Black Culture for the full list of virtual events that will not only educate employees but can be a great team-building tool.

While big seminars can’t happen right now, there are still no excuses not to be educated thanks to incredible online events

Support Black-Owned Businesses

A lot of advancements have been made since the systematic apartheid of the Jim Crow era. One notable exception that’s not widely discussed is the number of Black-owned businesses and the retention of dollars spent in African-American communities. 

 

In the past, we’ve raved about some incredible Black-owned and led businesses in our article ‘Black-led and Owned Businesses we Should Know About’. While we proved that there are some great Black-owned businesses out there, the truth is more complex than that. For instance,  “46% of Black business owners said their business was “just me”; 41% answered they employed 2-5 people.” 

 

It’s crucial that we help these businesses thrive and be more than just a niche, hidden gem. The more support these businesses receive, the greater the proliferation of Black entrepreneurs who can transform the world. Not only this, but the communities in which these companies operate will also flourish, helping to eradicate poverty, reduce crime, and give everyone the education they deserve. If you’re looking for inspiration on some top products that are created by Black businesses, you should read our article Our Favorite Black-Owned Business Products

 

Support Black businesses, big and small, can help end the cycle of poverty found in cities across America

Work to be done

The Civil Rights era is often heralded as the turning point in the country finally acknowledging African-Americans as full and equal citizens. The abolishment of Jim Crow laws and new laws such as the Voting Rights Act, issued in a zero-tolerance to systemic racism. Or so it would seem. There are a number of statistics that instantly dispels any claims that America today can be considered free of systematic racism. Despite making up 8% of the population, Black Americans make up 33% of those in prison. As explained in The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

 

The triumphs of how African Americans can never be proclaimed loudly enough and every February we must do all we can to honor the generations of struggle countless men and women have sacrificed themselves for a better America. 

We must do this while taking responsibility for the work that remains to ensure that every American has the opportunity to prosper without fear of persecution or injustice. That’s why Black history month is so important. To look at the past to be inspired for a greater future. For now, let’s continue to donate to anti-racist charities, support Black-owned businesses and educate our employees and the next generation that neutrality only helps the oppressor, and thus, how we all have a part to play in the fight for liberty and justice.

One more thing

All of us at DGW Branded are determined to stamp out racism in every aspect of society. While we can’t pass laws or donate millions to worthwhile organizations, we do what we can to help in any way possible. We hope to educate about all the incredible Black-led businesses out there. To find Black-run businesses you can support, check out our article, ‘Black-led and Owned Businesses we Should Know About’. No matter what you’re looking for, whether it’s for the office, a lucky employee, or just a personal something, there is the perfect product created by a Black-run business. Our ‘Favorite Black-Owned Business Products’ is a great place to start for inspiration.

About DGW Branded

As a B Corp, DGW Branded takes pride in thinking beyond profit. We want to see the world as equitable as possible, where everyone is given an equal opportunity to shine. That’s why we write articles such as this one. Furthermore, we hire those from the foster care system to help pack our orders. To find out more about our workforce program, please visit this section of our website.

 

While we hope we’ve clarified some of the roles and responsibilities of each section of the B Corp movement, we’re always willing to help other businesses succeed in their societal and environmental responsibilities, please leave a comment if you have any questions. For your business needs, you can also speak to one of our experts to find out how DGW Branded can provide you with custom items for promo and staff needs.

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