Black History Month: A Celebration of Human Experience

February 1, 2018

by Seth Minix

Human rights activist Desmond Tutu said, “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” This is still true today.  As we begin to celebrate Black History Month, we recognize the experiences of African Americans throughout history and those who are shaping our future. Stories of struggle, sacrifice, bravery and triumph remind us that the human experience of one group has the ability to affect us all.

I asked a few passionate colleagues across the network about what Black History Month means to them. Here’s what they shared:

“Black History Month offers a time to reflect upon the legacy and sacrifices of those who came before me – some of whom I know personally, others in name and story alone. Looking back, I’m grateful to my parents for teaching me about the significant role we’ve played in history. That education instilled an indelible sense of pride, as well as a duty to build upon the foundation established for me and many others. As diversity, culture and inclusion become an even greater focus for the firm, my hope is that we can set an example for our industry and leverage our insights, understanding and commitment to celebrating every culture for the benefit of society and our clients.” – Jon B. Gray, FH Kansas City

“Black History Month has always been a time when everyone can come together to learn about, celebrate and appreciate the history of black people in America. Black culture has had a significant impact on our society – in everything from music, fashion, sports, etc. Today, as discussions about diversity continue to come to the forefront, especially in the media industry, understanding our history is more important than ever. As PR professionals, it’s our job to counsel our clients about the importance of knowing and tapping into diverse audiences and help guide them to doing it the right way.  This month, we should take the time to reflect on the importance of having diverse voices within our company, as well as for the brands we work with.  – Rachel Coleman, FH Chicago

“Black History Month is a great time to reflect on our unsung heroes, innovators and change makers that are critical to America’s history, but may be absent from our history books. It also serves as an opportunity to celebrate the rich diversity in the black community that leads to better cultural competency which is essential in the communications industry. Whether you are tackling health disparities or developing outreach strategies that resonate with your target audience, representation is so important for progress. It’s a simple notion—but extremely powerful—to be able to see yourself in a campaign, product or initiative in a positive light.”           – Ashley Simms, FH Washington D.C.

“To me, Black History Month is equally about reflecting on the history and contributions of Black people in this country, as it is about the work that lies ahead. I’m reminded that efforts toward attaining equality take time. However, Black History Month motivates and reenergizes me to continue the work to achieve a more inclusive community, including here at FH.”
Kristen Ingram, FH Kansas City

At the core of our work stands the value of human connection and experiences. The diverse experiences of our staff reinforce our commitment to inclusion and authentic storytelling. They bring light to how we are stronger, together.