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Black History Month

Brands develop initiatives to reflect and observe Black History Month

In light of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement last year, Black History Month takes on renewed importance this year. As an annual celebration that dates back to 1976, the month provides a time to reflect on the achievements of Black Americans in the past, the present, and the future—but such reflection shouldn’t be limited to one month: the work is on-going, and brands need to recognize that they must demonstrably support this effort all year long. As we honor Black History Month, we at Cassandra recognize the need to continue amplifying information and resources in the fight against racial injustice. Below are three current initiatives from major brands that are observing Black History month.

MICROSOFT

Microsoft is aggregating knowledge from 13 renowned Black history museums across the world and packaging this information in a month-long virtual education curriculum for U.S. students in grades K-12. This effort, educating students around events like Martin Luther King Jr.’s Selma to Montgomery march and resources such as the Muhammad Ali Center’s “Truth Be Told” exhibit highlighting Ali’s fight against systemic racism, aims to address issues around racial injustice that are still prevalent today. Phyllis Terrell, Director of Communications at Fort Monroe Authority, reflects on this important work to People, saying: "Teaching US history is incomplete if we don't include Black history. During every time period in the creation and development of this country, Africans and African Americans were a part of this history."

YOUTUBE ORIGINALS

YouTube Originals' Black Renaissance, a new special showcasing Black creators and history makers, premiers on Friday, February 26. The special features Black changemakers, including President and Mrs. Obama, Desus Nice & The Kid Mero, Killer Mike, and others, and explores Afrofuturism and Black creativity across disciplines. The work of Black women and Black LGBTQ+ artists will be highlighted. Nadine Zylstra, Head of Learning, Impact, Kids & Families for YouTube Originals, spoke to this necessary offering, saying: “People come to YouTube as a place to learn and connect. This Black History month we wanted to continue meeting this challenge which I believe has never been more important[.] By choosing art as the lens to further explore Black history, we hope to inspire our audience to continue embracing Black culture in all its various forms.”

MATTEL

To honor the legacy of civil rights activist Maya Angelou and celebrate Black History Month, Mattel released a Maya Angelou Barbie doll, complete with a miniature copy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou’s groundbreaking autobiography (and the first in a seven-volume series). The Maya Angelou Barbie was made available for preorder back on January 14th and is the latest in Mattel’s Inspiring Women collection, which highlights other influential and history-making women. The Maya Angelou Barbie is already currently sold out due to high demand.