What Businesses Can Do To Celebrate Black History Month

What Businesses Can Do To Celebrate Black History Month

This month during Black History Month small businesses have the opportunity to show support and recognize some of the important people, contributions and events in African American history and communities.


Here are a few ideas on how your business can commemorate February’s Black History Month.


Participate in local events. Identify Black History Month events in your community and see how your business can participate, such as becoming a sponsor or volunteering.


In addition to the chance to expand your knowledge about African American history, participating in a Black History Month event is a way to show your support of black community members, including employees, customers and business owners.


Look for local city and/or state-sanctioned events as well as events staged by local history, museum and arts groups, which may be holding events to coincide with the 2024 Black History Month theme: African Americans and the Arts.


If sponsoring an event isn’t feasible, consider volunteering at a Black History Month event,  whether that’s physically helping at the event or donating supplies, your skills or services.


Another great way to get involved in a local Black History Month event? Be in attendance.

Also, encourage your employees to attend a Black History Month event that interests them and offer flex time off to attend if needed.


Recognize black-owned businesses. Make the time to learn more about the black-owned businesses in your community and their contributions.


The SBA estimates there are more than 3 million black-owned businesses in the U.S., and according to the Census Bureau, black-owned businesses generate $183.3 billion in annual receipts, employ 1.4 million people and have about $53.6 billion in annual payroll.


“That’s millions of people filling the needs of our local communities and creating jobs for workers of all backgrounds,” writes D. Steve Boland, chief administrative officer at Bank of America, in a Fortune commentary.


Despite prosperity and strides made by black-owned business owners, there are still barriers to access and opportunities, making it harder to launch a business and stay afloat as a black entrepreneur, he notes.


“In communities across the country, we must continue to support the creation of more Black businesses by expanding access to capital, increasing educational opportunities, and forging collaborative partnerships,” Boland said.


Partner with a black-owned business. A partnership has the potential of increasing opportunities and expanding the reach for all small businesses.


Consider collaborating with a business owner you already know or seek out a business whose products or services are compatible or complementary to your offerings. Explore the possibilities, such as an on-site or social media promotion that could generate interest and attract new customers.


Partner with a black-owned business in the arts to keep with this year’s Black History Month theme. Offer to feature/promote their art/products at your store or website or make a plan to collaborate on a project in the future.


Support groups that impact black communities. It’s important to be aware of and support organizations in your physical community and/or industry that support black entrepreneurs and businesses or other black community members.


These might be nonprofits or other groups focused on broadening access to opportunities for black entrepreneurs and businesses, such as incubators or training programs for specific industries, i.e., culinary, or entrepreneur networks with programs aimed at helping black businesses grow and prosper.


How Black History Month Began

It started nearly a century ago as a week-long February occasion to recognize the “the countless Black men and women who had contributed to the advance of human civilization,” according to Association for the Study of African American Life and History.


Carter G. Woodson came up with the concept of “Negro History Week” in 1926 and formed an association that eventually became the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.


Woodson, whose parents were enslaved, grew up to be an author, historian and the second African American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard University, according to the association’s website.

It wasn't until 1976 that the occasion was officially changed from a week to a month and from “Negro history to Black history,” the website says. That’s when President Gerald Ford signed the first proclamation designating Black History Month.


Woodson chose the month of February in part because the month coincides with the birthdays of “two great Americans who played a role in shaping Black history”: Frederick Douglass, a famed abolitionist who escaped from slavery and celebrated his birthday Feb. 14, and President Abraham Lincoln, who formally abolished slavery and was born on Feb. 12.


Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, 2021 ASALH national president, suggests Black History Month be seen as a way “our nation honors its greatest moments and greatest people.”


“Let us appreciate Black History Month in a similar way—as when our government sets aside a month or day, thereby giving it a special meaning for all Americans. No one should think that Black History is confined to the month of February, when evidence to the contrary appears everywhere and in every month.”




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