February 2022 DEI&B Reflections – Black History Month

Kalpana Patel

It is February..and yes, it is Black History Month.

Black History Month (BHM)  got its start in 1926 when Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an African American, promoted Negro History Week in February. The time was selected because it included the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln which had been notable dates for the black community since the start of the twentieth century. 

Also known as African-American History Month, it was first observed by students and faculty at Kent State University in 1970. In 1976 it evolved into a month-long celebration in 1976 and became a national holiday when President Gerald Ford recognized “the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history” in a speech to mark the United States Bicentennial.

It is a time for all Americans to reflect on both the history and teachings of African Americans, and to focus on the progress, richness and diversity of African American achievements. For companies, BHM is a great time to create learning opportunities for employees that might not usually be exposed to the different pieces of Black culture.

A few ways that companies can celebrate Black History Month:

    • Support Black-Owned Businesses Invest in small black-owned businesses in your area. Encourage you team to buy online from black owned businesses, or visit local black owned restaurants or choose a black owned caterer for your next company event.
    • Business Partnerships – Partner with black owned businesses in your area to collaborate on a service or to provide mutual clients discounts on products and services. When seeking contractors and consultants, seek out black owned businesses that fit the bill.
  • Spotlight Black entrepreneurs and Leaders – Within your organization, in your community and business network highlight successes of black leaders, entrepreneurs and high achievers. A few ways to do this would be to h a spotlight on your website or company newsletter, invite them to speak at an event.
  • Community Empowerment – Consciously support in cash, kind or by getting directly involved with non-profits and charities that meaningfully benefit the black community.

Women of color account for the fastest-growing demographic of U.S. entrepreneurs, responsible for an estimated $422.5 billion in annual revenue for the economy. What better way to pay homage to Black History Month than to support Black-owned businesses?

And..why not make it so that we do not have one month of celebration but that every month is black history month ?


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