The Agenda | Vol. 46 | Celebrate Black History All Year

by the Global Impact Relations Network


Showing the world how impactful storytelling drives behavior

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We can’t make it much clearer than the title. 

There is so much more to celebrate about Black history and the people making it than could possibly fit in the shortest month of the year. We hope you enjoy this look at just a few incredible Black communicators who are harnessing the power of storytelling to create history, as well as some tips on how to meaningfully participate in Black History Month that you can (and should) keep practicing, even when February is over.

SDGs covered in this issue:

Changing the perception of what an explorer looks like

Image: Diving with a Purpose

We could probably write a whole issue about Don’t Look Up, a star-studded film about a comet headed for Earth and scientists’ stymied efforts to mobilize a response to save humanity. While many climate communicators

Writer, mentor and explorer Tara Roberts recently became the first Black female explorer to make the cover of National Geographic magazine. Her incredible story chronicles her explorations of the wrecks of slave ships in the Atlantic with Diving With A Purpose, an organization that helps Black divers find and share their own history, in their own voices. You can also listen to Tara’s related 6-part podcast series about her experience, Into the Depths, on Apple podcasts. Tara’s story was featured on Good Morning America, in a segment that saw anchor Robin Roberts joining Tara on a dive. 

The search for lost slave ships led this diver on an extraordinary journey

Meaningful ways to participate in Black History Month

Image: @ShareTheMicUK, Instagram

The team at Later put together a guide for meaningful participation in Black History Month, offering some great suggestions for supporting Black creators and history makers beyond a cursory set of social posts. Among their suggestions: Doing a #passthemic activation where an influencer or brand offers up their social platform to a Black community leader to connect their work with a broader audience, thinking beyond the obvious historical figures like MLK Jr. or Rosa Parks, and supporting Black-led brands and initiatives with both money and exposure.

How to Celebrate Black History Month on Social Media

Making out-of-context MLK Jr. quotes a thing of the past

Image: New York Times

If you don’t cringe when you see brands or public figures dusting off their faithful old MLK posts referencing “I Have A Dream,” or “hate cannot drive out hate,” you’ve got some homework to do. And if you haven’t heard of Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Nikole-Hannah Jones and the 1619 Project, Let Google Be Your Friend (LGBYF) without delay.

In January, Jones addressed a crowd at the Union Club in Chicago to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Having read objections to her invitation that referred to her as a “discredited activist” who was unqualified to speak to MLK’s legacy, Jones delivered an address in which she passed off some of MLK’s more incendiary quotes about racism, capitalism, and and white America’s inaction as her own. When she revealed the words had been MLK’s, the audience was stunned. Jones’ tweet thread about the experience has been shared more than 30,000 times.

Nikole Hannah-Jones’ controversial Union League Club appearance pushes words of a more ‘radical’ MLK back to the forefront

Ways to Act

  • Donate to Diving With A Purpose
  • Seek out Black communicators for job opportunities. Look beyond your traditional network. Hire a Black recruiter. Require at least 50% of interviews be granted to applicants of color. Share job postings and scholarship opportunities with organizations such as the National Black Public Relations Society, Black Talent Initiative, POCAM, or BYP Network.
  • Support Black communicators with funding. Check out the Black Journalists Therapy Relief Fund, which provides therapy and mental health resources to Black journalists, who are often asked to report on racial injustice at great  risk to their own safety.
  • Create a #passthemic campaign in your organization. Look here and here for inspiration.

Next Impact Council event

Join the Global Impact Relations Network on Thursday, March 3 at 12pm ET / 9am PT for our first event of 2022 and learn best practices for launching corporate impact reports. Mike Hower, a veteran in sustainability and impact communications, will be moderating a conversation with Veronica White, an impact marketing expert from YouTube, and Colleen Splender, an ESG strategy & reporting authority from McDonald’s. Secure your seat here.

Thanks for reading,

— Ashley Letts, Managing Editor

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