Take a moment to Google Black History Month. What images come up? How do they make you feel? What I see is a handful of historic, mostly deceased black leaders (primarily MLK) whose achievements are unmatched and virtually impossible to replicate. If I can be frank, it makes me feel…well, bored.
No disrespect to the courageous men and women who defied insurmountable odds and altered the course of history to the benefit of all African-Americans. They are deserving of the honor and prestige that their names evoke. But, if the purpose of BHM is to recognize those who paved the way AND inspire the next generation of leaders, we are failing miserably at the later.
Black History Month is in desperate need of rebranding.
What is a brand? It’s a promise to the consumer about what they will receive, how they will feel or what they will experience. It’s how you know exactly to expect when you step inside of a Starbucks vs. a Chick-fil-a. Everything has a brand – even you. So, if everyone and everything has its own unique branding, how would you describe the brand of Black History Month?
I recently spoke with people on the street in Detroit to ask them that very question. Here’s what they said:
1. MLK is the Brand Ambassador of BHM – Ask people about Black History Month and the first name that comes to mind is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. People struggled to name more than three or four important figures in black history.
2.BHM is Important – The good news is that across generations, gender, and social statues, people respect the momentousness of BHM. They recognize its importance.
3. It’s a Passive Celebration – When asked how they celebrate Black History Month, people mostly mentioned passive activities like reading or reflecting. Few people observe any traditions or action-oriented activities surrounding BHM.
Check it out:
Decent responses, but I think we owe ourselves more. The black experience in this country is one of trials and success, tribulation and triumph. New chapters of our history are being written every day – which is why I believe BHM should be a month of action, self-improvement, personal goal setting, and resolutions for the betterment of the body of African Americans.
As Men of Courage, what can we do to make Black History Month more relevant? We want to hear from you. Leave a comment below, share your thoughts, and show us what you’re doing using #rebrandBHM #BHM18.
Stay tuned February 1st as I unveil Five Action Steps to Rebrand Black History Month.
Shawn H. Wilson
Shawn’s social entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to innovation has brought value to Fortune 500 companies and “A” list celebrities alike. The consummate social and tech entrepreneur, Shawn has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post and during keynote speeches at MIT, Harvard and the Clinton Global Initiative University. Shawn's responsibilities with Ford Motor Company Fund include driving social and economic mobility in multicultural communities through inclusion and access to the innovation economy.