Black History Month 2020: Round Up of This Year’s Impact
Black History Month is one of the most important celebrations of the year, and with 2020’s protests for racial equality during the summer, it played a vital role in the fight against racism. This year, the event highlighted the essential need to celebrate all things Black - Black joy, Black education, Black culture, Black life – through an all-encompassing global approach.
Running across October, and leading to countless media campaigns, political movements and events centring around diversity and inclusion, Black History Month aims to educate and inspire. It evokes uncomfortable yet crucial conversations surrounding race, to leave people with a better understanding.
Read our round-up of Black History Month’s impact in 2020, including how you can continue to empower Black voices.
Popular Black Speakers & Their Inspiring Webinars
Here at Champions Speakers, we had the honour of booking several inspiring Black webinar speakers for online events across October. Sharing their stories, they taught audiences the power of diversity in the face of discrimination, and the importance of inclusion in the workplace. Here are just a few of our exciting webinar bookings:
Dr Mark Prince at Intelex Technologies
Described as a “great guest speaker”, Dr Mark Prince’s virtual talk for Intelex Technologies was met with rave reviews. The session was attended by 100 internal staff of the technology, sustainability and safety company, which hosted Mark for Black History Month. Among other positive testimonials, feedback described him as “very inspiring”.
David Olusoga at Astra Zeneca
Astra Zeneca, a pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company, booked David Olusoga for Black History Month, to appear at their virtual event. Joined by 100 people, most of which from Astra Zeneca’s Sales and Marketing department, David delivered an insightful speech on Understanding UK Black History, which touched the hearts of all in attendance.
Dr Mark Prince at Epiq Systems Ltd
Attended by 150 internal staff, Dr Mark Prince gave an inspiring virtual talk for technology and consultancy company, Epiq Systems. He discussed his personal experiences of trauma and adversity, as well as the mental resilience that was required to overcome such hardships. Audience members described Mark’s account as “truly inspirational” and “amazing”.
Bishu Solomon, VP of Client Services & Forensics, said:
“I think Mark did a great job of covering his full life journey and how he was able to overcome moments of extreme adversity – the internal factors that motivated his success as well as the external sources he looked to for support and guidance.”
Bokani Tshidzu & Sharon Warmington at Wickes Building Supplies Ltd
Booked by the popular construction and home improvement company, Wickes Building Supplies, Bokani Tshidzu and Sharon Warmington starred in a virtual panel for Black History Month. The speakers discussed their experiences as Black Britons, their career highlights, and supplied a valuable insight into diversity in the UK. The event was attended by 150 internal Wickes staff, and included methods for becoming a “more accepting and diverse workforce” – as well as some “African and Caribbean inspired treats”!
Brand & Media Campaigns
From retail to technology and media, industries from across the world joined forces to celebrate Black History Month. Including some of the biggest names in business, many brands used the celebration to elevate Black voices, taking a vocal stance for diversity.
The Black Farmer - Supermarket Fundraiser
Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, known as the Black Farmer, has been rewriting history this Black History Month. With Black faces stereotyped on product packaging, he used his market-leading products to showcase some of history’s greatest Black figures, like Mary Seacole, who founded the British Hotel. Wilfred teamed up with major supermarkets including Sainsbury's and Aldi, to raise money for the Mary Seacole Trust and the Black Cultural Archives.
One of the globe’s leading social media platforms, Instagram used its popularity to showcase Black creatives with their #ShareBlackStories campaign. With a stylish photo filter and global hashtag, Black users celebrated their culture with effects inspired by African mud cloth patterns. On Instagram’s own account, talented and inspiring Black figures were featured, to empower diverse voices.
Bumble - #MyLoveIsBlackLove
In a study by Bumble, 79% of Black Britons did not feel like they were represented in the dating scene, through mainstream images or stories. To promote Black stories, the dating site used Black History Month as an opportunity to highlight diverse relationships, through their hashtag #MyLoveIsBlackLove. In the social media campaign, 30 Black British figures shared their experience of love and dating.
ITV - “It’s All About…”
Fronted by the likes of Alison Hammond and Maya Jama, ITV featured Black stories in their “It’s All About” series. From music to food, literature to art, the campaign left no stone unturned in the quest for representation, credited to ITV’s in-house creative team. Audiences were captivated by the vibrant animations and heart-felt stories, which explored all facets of Black culture - past, present and future.
Retail giant, GAP, teamed up with four promising Black artists to release their Black History Month t-shirt collection. The products featured designs from global artists, across the UK, France and the US, supplying them with a deserving platform to take a stand for diversity. Putting their money where their mouth is, GAP also donated £10,000 to the CNBA Foundation, which supports young creatives in Black communities.
Royal Mail - Black Post-Boxes
At the start of October, Royal Mail unveiled four black post boxes trimmed with gold, featuring the stories of pinnacle Black Britons. Combining technology with art, passers-by could access extended descriptions of the stamp-worthy figures with a QR code, to celebrate Black stories. However, Black Lives Matter co-founder, Tyrek Morris, highlighted the importance of practical action, starting with the brand’s stance on diversity.
Depop - Black on Depop
Depop’s Black History Month campaign endeavoured to better represent Black creatives on their platform, by curating three video profiles of sellers and buyers. In the videos, representatives of the Black community discussed the importance of representation and visibility. Hand in hand with the campaign, the retail platform also pioneered their hashtag, #BlackOnDepop, for other Black creators to use.
TikTok - #MyRoots
With the hashtag #MyRoots, TikTok showcased Black stories across their platform. From comedic skits to heart-wrenching accounts of real experiences, the hashtag results contains thousands of empowered Black creatives. TikTok dedicated its platform to “Black History, Black Present, Black Future”, starting with its own company structure and diversity.
Speaking on the matter, their Head of Global Business Marketing stated:
"We are excited to celebrate our black community this Black History Month - and beyond - by focusing on the joy of this community on TikTok, their stories and their individuality. I am so proud of the work of my colleagues at TikTok in producing a campaign that is a celebration of the black experience in an authentic way."
Though ground-level conversations are important, the political discourse surrounding race can trigger transformative change. As such, Black History Month is a vital opportunity for politicians to make a genuine impact, by listening to the needs of the people.
In 2020, the political reaction to Black History Month focused on the need for education and the reality of Black experiences.
Onyinye Iwu fronted an educational campaign by Parliament, which served to educate primary school students. The illustrator and teacher had this to say about the project:
“This Black History Month resource for KS2 students was a fantastic project to get involved in as it highlights some truly inspirational members of the Black British community who have dedicated their lives to creating a better world for the Black community by contributing towards justice in British law and equal rights. This type of representation is very important in order to nurture wholesome children who understand fairness and equity in a multicultural society like today’s.”
In response, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons stated:
“We are always keen to celebrate the work, talent and achievements of our staff – so Black History Month offers us another excellent opportunity to do just that.”
Keir Starmer’s Response
Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer used Black History Month as an opportunity to promote the power of education. He called for a more diverse school curriculum, which some have argued is “whitewashed” to undermine the severity of British colonialism and imperialism. On the matter, Keir said:
“This month we celebrate the huge achievements of Black Britons and the Black community. But Black British history should be taught all year round, as part of a truly diverse school curriculum that includes and inspires all young people and aids a full understanding of the struggle for equality.”
PM Boris Johnson’s Response
Conservative MP and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson took to social media to share his thoughts on Black History Month. He commended the hard work of Black servicepeople and public servants, who “helped make Britain what it is”, taking viewers on a journey through history.
“All this month, we’re celebrating the lives of Black public servants who helped make the UK what it is. Whilst we have come a long way, and Britain is one of the most diverse and inclusive societies in the world, the events over the last few months have shown that there is still more work to be done. Black history is our history – so let’s learn from it, and build a better future for us all.”
Book a Black History Month Speaker
Black motivational and keynote speakers are essential for improving diversity in the workplace and schools. Their historical understanding, combined with personal stories, makes for an enlightening event, which leaves a lasting impact on audiences.
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