What Happened To The Black History Month Celebrations?

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For as long as I can remember Black History Month was celebrated in the United States in an educational environment as well as by major consumer brands and media outlets on television and radio. During the late 90’s and early 00’s more commercials would showcase African American actors selling big brand name products to American consumer’s during the month of February.  In addition, news outlets would recognize national, regional and local hero’s from the African American community that had achieved over-whelming accomplishments not only for African American community, but American citizens as a whole.

Today, Black History Month is almost not taken seriously by major brands or television networks. Since America has elected an African-American President, the push to showcase African-American consumers in advertisement and television specials during the month of February has dwindled down to almost nothing.  The Disney XD Channel and AT&T were the only two brands that created new television commercials for the 2016 Black History Month Celebration. Why is that?

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In the last year with the “Black Lives Matter” campaign, that began after young African-American citizens were being gunned down, chocked and beaten to death from the streets of Chicago, to St, Louis and Florida by over aggressive police officers, has been extremely relevant with all the major news outlets. But why can’t the positive attributes in the African-American community continue to be celebrate during the month of February? Where are the marketing dollars from the big brands to help push this agenda through? Clearly the manufactures of “Skittles” have profited from free publicity it gained in the Travon Martin case, but has yet to create any type of campaign or co-partnership with a national children’s organization to help educate young teenagers and keep them safe. But I have digressed.

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According to the NAACP, Negro History Week was originally started by Carter G. Woodson, the African-American historian, author, journalist and father of African-American History, to fill a void in Americas’ history books. Today, there is a large group of African-Americans in the United States that ask the question, why can’t we celebrate Black History Every Day? According to well-known actor and rapper Nick Cannon, “Anytime we can celebrate black cultural, I’m with it.” “We make black history every day, so why shouldn’t we celebrate it?’ That’s why the media and the big brands should re-think how they handle news stories and marketing campaigns not only in February but all year round.

As February 2016 comes to a close, American citizens are somewhat reminded about the achievements of numerous African American Inventors, Innovators and Civil Liberties Movement Leaders in the United States. Now with the invention of social media, very well-known historical data and unknown or under-reported African-American history information can be accessed by history buffs and students on a daily basis. Web-sites like “NAACP “, “Because of Them We Can” and “We Are Black History” will continue to tell the true stories of our fore fathers and how they helped build America in to what she is today, a symbol for freedom and equality for all. Maybe next year big brands and the media outlets will create marketing communication plans that collaborate with social media outlets like “Because of Them We Can” and create positive commercials that can be shown not only in February, but all year round.

References

Brown, S. (2016). Social Media Takes Black History Month Beyond The Classroom. Retrieved from: http://www.thewashingtonpost.com/social-media-takes-black-hisory-month-beyond-the-classroom

Gebreyes, R. (2016). Nick Cannon: We Make Black History Every Day” Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nick-cannon-we-make-black-history-every-day_us_56cf6010e4b0320bf7602bd?utm_hp_ref=black-history-month

Grinberg, E. (2016). Was February 2016 the Best Black History Month Ever? Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/26/living/best-black-history-month-2016-feat/

NAACP. (2016). Black History Month. Retrieved from: http://www.naacp/black-history-month

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to What Happened To The Black History Month Celebrations?

  1. Noor Eid says:

    Thanks for your post! I think the points your bring up are very interesting especially considering the recent climate and attention around the Oscars and the questions that were brought up surrounding diversity and representation of people of color in Hollywood, not only in receiving awards but also in giving greater opportunities for people of color in casting of major roles and directing of these films.

    I also noticed that in the past I would hear and see a lot of content that celebrated African Americans and their contributions to society and communities across the nation during the month of February. This year, besides social media, I did not see as many commercials or brand-related material focusing on black history month. If anything, while I was watching a show with my younger cousins on Disney channel I saw short Disney-produced clips celebrating black youth and members of the community without directly implying it was for BHM. I’m curious why engagement in this historic month has decreased over the years as you stated. What can be attributed to this decreasing trend?

    We do see heightened racial tensions transmitted through social media where police brutality toward African American youth is not going unnoticed, yet major media networks seem to mention black people mainly in the context of perpetrators of crime or violence. Why are the triumphs that happen everyday in communities of color not highlighted with the same intensity? I think as consumers and producers of content, we need to be more conscious and proactive in generating and circulating positive images of people of color and black youth specifically to build stronger, more tolerant relations and perspectives across communities. At this time, we see clearly that America has not yet reached this “post-racial” epoch some like to claim we are in, and for this reason we should constantly work to empower individuals from these communities and offer opportunities to celebrate those who have contributed in great ways to our nation and those who continuously contribute to the success of our nation everyday. Rather than depend on brands or big media companies to share this information, individuals can be active in sharing information and stories on social media so that this historic month, and throughout the year, individuals from these communities can speak, be heard, and be celebrated.

  2. Robert says:

    Interesting post. It’s hard not to get lost in my emotions and make a hasty reply. I only offer my opinion, not a fact sheet. It appears that the nation believes it is beyond the age of civil rights injustices and equal opportunity for African Americans. So in the end, Black History month isn’t so much a big deal because so much progress has been made. There surly is a black president and it feels like anything is possible now. The celebration of Black History feels like it came from a time when the nation needed to be told of the contributions of African Americans in order to improve the chances of future generations having greater opportunities to positively impact society and the nation. Dr. Carter G. Woodson is often credited as the Father of the movement to nationally celebrate African American Achievement. While improvements have been made, much is left to be achieved. It is not on the surface but exists deep like a ice berg below the surface. Why didn’t any African Americans get considered for Oscars this year? Essentially, we have 1st world problems!