How Google, Coca-Cola And Other American Companies Are Celebrating Black History Month 2020
February is Black History Month, and much of corporate America is commemorating the occasion. From tech to retail and industries in between, here’s how some of the nation’s biggest businesses are celebrating the achievements of black Americans.
Google kicked off Black History Month earlier than most, airing an ad titled “The Most Searched: A Celebration of Black History Makers” during the Grammy Awards on January 26. As the name suggests, the 90-second spot features the most searched African-Americans who made history—including abolitionist Frederick Douglass, musician Louis Armstrong and poet Maya Angelou—and the moments that defined it, like the Montgomery bus boycott and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. “‘Most Searched’ tells a powerful story about how the Black community has helped shape and influence American culture,” wrote Google creative strategist Shea Jackson McCann in a post introducing the ad on the company’s site. “It also shows the tremendous collective interest in our history.”
The tech juggernaut also commemorated the month with a Google Doodle, which honored the 60th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in on February 1, and created Google Earth interactive maps that allow users to see locations along the Underground Railroad and slave dwellings in Virginia throughout the year. Last month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that the company is awarding a $3 million Google.org grant to support the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) program.
Google isn’t the only company ushering in Black History Month with a new ad spot. Coca-Cola’s “History Shakers,” set to be released this month, highlights six African Americans—homeless activist Terence Lester, Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel, opera singer Davóne Tines, food activist Champale Anderson-Greene, roboticist Ayanna Howard and media producer Tony Weaver Jr.—shaping modern history in unique ways. “The Coca-Cola Company has always celebrated Black History Month, honoring those that paved the way to ensure a better world,” says Daneyni Sanguinetti, director of multicultural marketing at Coca-Cola North America. “We believe in honoring those that share our company’s values and purpose of refreshing the world and making a difference.”
For the fifth year in a row, Target will offer customers a Black History Month “product assortment,” or a collection of more than 100 items—including apparel, beauty, food, décor, movies, music and toys—that celebrate the legacy and impact of the African-American community. This year’s theme is “Black Beyond Measure,” and one third of the products are from black-owned businesses. “The items that were most impactful last year were the ones that highlighted individuals with lasting legacies—this is where the theme, ‘Black Beyond Measure,’ came from,” says Melanie Gatewood, director of multicultural merchandise at Target. “The entire team of more than 20 team members came together to build an assortment that represented as many definitions of success as possible—including stories from entrepreneurs, artists, activists, poets, chefs and more.” Among the most popular items: Rosa Parks and Katherine Johnson Barbie dolls.
Another retailer recognizing the month through its products is Under Armour. In collaboration with Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry, the athletic apparel brand released the Curry 7 Our History Colorway on January 20. The sneaker, inspired by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. and its designer, David Adjaye, features shades of bronze, brown, neon green and olive, as well as the museum’s longitude and latitude coordinates, emblazoned on the heel.
Macy’s is displaying Black History Month-themed windows at its Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. locations, and will be hosting events with the likes of NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, comedian Phoebe Robinson and Oscar-nominated actor Matthew Cherry, among others. “Macy’s mission is to embed diversity and inclusion into how we think, act and operate,” said Macy’s chief diversity officer Shawn Outler in a statement. “We are strongest when we are representative of the many communities we serve and we are thrilled to offer our customers engaging Black History Month events that honor and reflect the black experience and its impact on global culture.” Through the campaign, developed in conjunction with Macy’s black employee resource group, the company will donate $10,000 to charitable organizations, such as Jerry Rice’s 127 Foundation and local urban leagues.
UPS will also be commemorating the month through a variety of events, beginning with a panel featuring the first African-American UPS driver, Ken Jarvis, on February 6. Employees can also look forward to the Bronner Brothers International Beauty Show—a collaboration between the UPS Corporate African-American Business Resource Group and Marketing Diversity Council—and a panel with three Black College Football Hall of Fame inductees, during which they will discuss the challenges and successes of their collegiate and professional football careers.
Meanwhile at Twitter, @Blackbirds—the official account of the social media platform’s business resource group for members and allies of the African diaspora—has launched a campaign called #LoveToSeeIt, through which the company hopes to amplify the voices of those in the black community and their allies by encouraging users to tweet celebrations of African-American pride using the hashtag #LoveToSeeIt. Twitter will also be hosting several Black History Month events at its offices, including those featuring guest chefs and black-owned businesses.