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Black History Month – Join the Conversation

Altaf Shaikh | February 6, 2017 

February is Black History Month – also known as National African American History Month. Black History Month has been celebrated in the United States during the month of February since 1976. This year’s theme is “The Crisis in Black Education.”

“Throughout the last quarter of the twentieth century and continuing today, the crisis in black education has grown significantly in urban neighborhoods where public schools lack resources, endure overcrowding, exhibit a racial achievement gap, and confront policies that fail to deliver substantive opportunities. The touted benefits of education remain elusive to many blacks of all ages. Tragically, some poorly performing schools serve as pipelines to prison for youths.” – ASALH, The Crisis in Black Education Executive Summary 2017

According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the theme focuses on the crucial role of education in the history of African Americans. ASALH’s founder, Carter G. Woodson, once wrote that, “if you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race.”

About Black History Month

In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

In addition to celebrating the contributions black Americans have made to our country, Black History Month encourages conversations about race relations, culture, and American history. It also offers companies and marketers an opportunity to engage in meaningful and inspiring conversations with their audiences.

Black History Month is the perfect time for organizations to openly demonstrate corporate responsibility and take a stand on social issues – such as race, gender, and economic equality and justice.

How to Market During Black History Month

It’s important to join the conversation and build awareness on the important issues that face black Americans. As marketers, we can also exhibit cultural awareness through our marketing efforts this month and throughout the year.

Here are some tips:

  • Black consumers (as do most consumers) gravitate toward campaigns that use authentic messages and reflect their culture.
  • Marketing during Black History Month should center on strengthening and empowering your African American employees and consumer base.
  • Implement initiatives and campaigns that speak to the needs and aspirations of your African American customers. Represent issues that are important to them.
  • Take a stand on social issues.
  • Engage your audience in an inspiring moment in Black History, such as the Civil Rights Movement or the accomplishments of great African American leaders.
  • Create community partnerships with organizations that better the lives of black Americans.
  • Don’t just look to the past, look to the future. This year, the focus is on “the crisis in black education.” There is a lot of work to be done, and we can all play a role in improving the education opportunities for our black youth.

Year-Round Corporate Responsibility

While Black History Month is a great time to reflect on African Americans’ contributions to our nation’s history, it’s also the time to encourage dialogue. The issues that impact black Americans don’t go away after a month. Businesses, individuals and government should be extending the conversation year-round. Promoting social justice – whether for race, gender, age, economics, or any other social equality issue – is an ongoing initiative.

What is your company doing to sustain the awareness generated by Black History Month? We’d like to hear from you!

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Altaf Shaikh

Altaf Shaikh | Founder, CEO

Altaf Shaikh is ListEngage’s Founder and CEO. Altaf has been in software development and digital marketing for more than 25 years. He started ListEngage in 2003 to help businesses transform their email and digital marketing. ListEngage has supported the Salesforce Marketing Cloud since 2003 when it was ExactTarget. As a dedicated Salesforce Partner, ListEngage has served 900+ customers and earned multiple awards, such as: 2013 ExactTarget Global Services Award, the Inc. 5000 three consecutive years, and the Boston Business Journal's FAST 50 two years in a row. Contact Altaf at