February is Black History Month, a time to recognize the often-overlooked contributions of African Americans to U.S. history and culture. First celebrated in the 1920s and officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976, this time of the year is celebrated by institutions as well as individuals.
By taking time to reflect on this crucial part of our nation’s story, companies that honor Black History Month can demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Not only does this create an atmosphere of appreciation and acceptance within the workplace, but it also sends a positive message to the public that large organizations within the American system are actively listening and responding to the experiences of marginalized groups in society.
Following are 10 companies that are celebrating Black History Month in a range of creative and meaningful ways.
The family entertainment empire has announced that it will celebrate Black History month in several ways. For one thing, the streaming service Disney+ will present special programming for February, kicking off with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which will debut on Feb. 1.
In addition, Disney resorts will host special experiences to honor Black heritage. At Disneyland, one of these events is “Celebrate Gospel” on Feb. 18 and 15. This special event showcases performances by award-winning gospel music stars, recording artists and community choirs. Meanwhile, Troubadour Tavern will add dishes to its African-inspired menu and the Downtown Disney District will offer family crafts, live music and more all month long.
The national retailer will once again amplify and celebrate the voices of the Black community by partnering with Black-owned or designed brands for a Black History Month collection. For instance, it has collaborated with designer Samantha Black, who created a capsule of vivid and trendy pieces for men and women.
Other collections for sale include kids’ wear by Little Giants Giant Shorties and Ade + Ayo, art and decor pieces by DomoINK and handcrafted pieces by Rayo & Honey. In addition, works created by 2022 HBCU Design Challenge winners (from historically Black colleges and universities) are featured.
The athletic brand is celebrating Black History Month by sharing the stories of four influential Black Legacy Builders who designed customizable Air Force 1s from the latest Future Movement BHM By You collection, which is available now. These designers are Anna Cockrell, an Olympic track and field athlete and mental health advocate; Daryl Homer, an Olympic fencer who works with the Peter Westbrook Foundation; Saroya Tinker, a professional hockey player who advocates for and mentors Black girls in sports; and Brandon “Stix” Salaam-Bailey, an artist, entrepreneur and founder of the Think Watts Foundation.
In 2022 Nike partnered with Converse, Jordan Brand and Michael Jordan to address systemic racism in America. The strategic partnership has committed to investing a combined $140 million over 10 years to support organizations focused on economic empowerment, education and social justice.
The company is celebrating the first anniversary of its private label brand Hope & Wonder with a Black History Month collection benefiting Black Girls Smile, a nonprofit organization aimed at addressing mental health for Black women and girls.
“Hope & Wonder celebrates diversity and showcases a range of apparel and accessories for the entire family,” Michelle Wlazlo, JCPenney’s chief merchandising officer, said in a statement. “This brand continues to build on our ongoing commitment to inclusivity and appreciation for our diverse customers and associates.”
JCPenney’s Creative Coalition , which is helmed by the company’s “internal team of BIPOC designers,” created and curated the collection. In addition, several JCPenney associates and their families are featured as models for the collection, and 100% of net profits from the collection will be donated to Black Girls Smile.
Members of Apple’s Black creative community and allies collaborated to develop a Black Unity Collection to celebrate Black History Month this year. The collection includes a special-edition Apple Watch Black Unity Sport Loop, which has the word “Unity” abstractly woven with red, green and black yarns as a tribute to the Pan-African flag. A new matching watch face and iPhone wallpaper are included, as well.
In addition, new content will be available beginning in February, such as a series of Apple Maps Guides created by the Smithsonian and film collections curated by Dr. Jelani Cobb. Apple is also expanding its support of five organizations focused on uplifting Black and Brown communities through its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.
The retailer has announced that it will honor Black History Month with a long round-up and donation campaign in stores and online to benefit the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) beginning Feb. 1. In addition, as part of its ongoing commitment to assisting and empowering diverse businesses through its social purpose platform, Mission Every One, Macy’s will also highlight Black-owned brands, arrange online shopping events and more.
“This Black History Month, we’re furthering Macy’s mission of building a brighter future with bold representation for our colleagues, customers, and communities by spotlighting and celebrating the history, accomplishments, and resilience of Black Americans throughout our stores and across our brands,” Shawn Outler, Macy’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, said in a statement. “Through Mission Every One, we work with our communities and UNCF to raise critical funding that will empower the next generation of leaders, enabling growth and leadership through HBCU educational opportunities.”
Macy’s has raised more than $2 million for UNCF since 2021.
American Family Insurance
The insurance provider says it is honoring Black History Month by celebrating, empowering and protecting real people. In 2021, the company launched its Free to Dream initiative with a commitment to provide $105 million over five years to help close equity gaps. The initiative focuses on five “pillars,” which are economic empowerment; education and health equity; climate resilience; criminal justice reform; and workforce diversity, equity and inclusion.
Throughout February, American Family is offering free virtual events featuring notable speakers. Topics include “Descended from the Promised Land: The Legacy of Black Wall Street,” “Diversity in Genre Fiction With Jasmine Guillory,” and “Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics With Talithia Williams.”
For Black History Month 2023, AT&T announced it would amplify the voices of influential leaders with a signature program that is part of its Dream in Black lifestyle platform, Black Future Makers. Fifteen culture shapers will be featured during Black History Month through events and activations across the U.S.
“When people have access to the resources needed to unlock their full potential, the door to opportunity widens,” Michelle Jordan, chief diversity officer of AT&T, said in a statement. “I’m proud of how our Dream in Black platform and the Black Future Makers serve not only as inspiration for others in the community to achieve greater possibility, but also live up to our commitment to empower Black talent through economic opportunity.”
Consumers are also invited to share their Dream in Black stories for a chance to win $25,000, a new Samsung S23 and a social media collab with one of this year’s celebrity Black Future Makers.
Saks Fifth Avenue
The retailer is partnering with the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective to honor Black History Month, focusing on mental health and healing in the fashion industry. Along with highlighting Black designers, Saks has donated $60,000 to support BEAM’s Black Wellness Innovation Fund, providing grants to innovative Black-led wellness work and mental health resources.
Companies can make genuine progress in uplifting diverse voices through education, thoughtful dialogue, and meaningful gestures. By recognizing Black History Month and beyond, companies like those included in our list have the power to make significant strides toward a more equitable future for all.
This story originally appeared on Simplemost. Check out Simplemost for additional stories.