We have just completed another Black History Month. The occasion serves to remind our nation of the long struggle to free African-Americans and honor their leaders and innovators.
Begun in 1976 as an extension of Black History Week, the celebration is now observed in Canada and the UK. Major businesses have established innovative ways to honor the history of African-Americans and descendants of African slaves.
These businesses have recognized that when citizens rise together — business leaders, employees, and customers — everyone ultimately wins. Promoting awareness primarily through educational initiatives, the efforts of these business should should be acknowledged and cheered.
Comcast utilized its broad reach as a cable television giant to fill the month of February with content that celebrated Black History Month. The content, which included thousands of On Demand hours, included music, movies, and television shows.
The company also offered Black History Month content on its Xfinity Xfinity website devoted to black entertainment. Guest editors were invited to reflect on the observance. Content such as trivia and lessons in history helped to make the website a robust source of information.
2. Southern California Edison
A subsidiary of Edison International, this firm decided to support African-American students and businesses in its customer area. The power company strengthened the African-American community in its service area with scholarships for students and awards to leaders in business.
SCE’s award event, titled “Celebrating Business & Community Partnerships,” drew considerable public attention and media coverage.
3. Barnes and Noble
As the Wall Street Journal reported, national book retailer Barnes and Noble hosted a series of its own free story-time events geared toward Black History Month. The company also held special promotions at stores nationwide throughout February.
Barnes and Noble adopted a broad approach to its observance, which included tote bags by African-American artist LaShun Beal, a selection of Nook books curated just for the monthlong celebration, and special book displays at all of its stores.
4. U.S. Cellular
In collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Virginia in honor of Black History Month, wireless phone company US Cellular created an innovative approach that merged community with business. Boys and Girls Club members were encouraged to plunge into history and create a small portrait of an important figure in African American History.
Ten of the portraits were selected for the final round. Winners received a range of prizes as well as a place in the spotlight during a promotional event organized by US Cellular.
Telecommunications icon AT&T contributed to Black History Month through a grassroots campaign. The company’s initiative, called Making History Happen, attempted a revolutionary approach to community outreach.
Connecting with three outstanding African-American leaders in their respective fields, AT&T created three teams. Team 1, coached by rapper MC Lyte, promoted creativity and self-expression for young girls.
Team 2, led by software guru Wayne Sutton, offered a course in blending civic pride with design focused on pragmatic real-world solutions. Team 3, commanded by Olympian and philanthropist Sanya Richards-Ross, focused on tools needed to create change at the grassroots level.
In these innovative ways, private companies showed their public spirit by participating in programs that served the greater good.