In honor of Black History Month, Purple’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leads invited some of the incredible Black talent across Purple to share reflections about what this month means to them, Black leaders who inspire them, and more. Below, we highlight their perspectives on Black history, culture, traditions, joy and excellence.
With contributions from: Sedale McCall, director of digital insights and one of Purple’s DEI leads; Jasmine Graves, research analyst; Antoine Fagan, designer; Georgia Boothe, accountant; Giselle Tervalon, communications manager; and campaign coordinators Latisha Townsend, Kimberly Chavis, Jaymi Thomas and Chioma Onwumelu.
What Black History Month means to you.
- Georgia: Black History Month is a celebration of our ancestors’ excellence and motivation to always strive for the greatness that lies beyond our current circumstances. It is an important time to celebrate the impact of African American culture in the past and present. It reminds us of hope and opportunity for the future.
- Jasmine: Black History Month gives us the opportunity to reflect and gain an understanding of the Black experience in America. Black History Month can foster a sense of community both within and outside of the Black community through learning about Black history that is often missed.
- Jaymi: Black History Month is always a time for me to focus on aspects of history that are fascinating, inspiring and packed with nuanced experiences. One of the most enriching moments I had as a college student was crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama while I was taking a sociology course. t was a reminder to me that in the summer of 2007 when I crossed the bridge, leaders and laypeople alike crossed that bridge less than 50 years prior. Black History Month reminds me to pause, reflect and honor the legacy of those that led and paved the way for freedoms that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
- Kimberly: To me, Black History Month is the time to celebrate and showcase all things Black. To really soak in and appreciate all our achievements, cultures, traditions and customs. It’s also a great time for allies to further educate themselves on just how valuable Black people are and have been throughout American history, past the obvious.
- Latisha: Every month is Black History Month for me! During the month of February, I think it’s a great time to be in communion with Black people all across the African diaspora. There is a certain knowing we all share, and that feeling is unmatched. To me, BHM means accountability, reflection and unity.
- Sedale: Black History Month provides a moment for others to learn about the community and highlight the progress of African Americans in the country. I think that’s something I try to do every month, but I appreciate the moment for others to focus more.
Black History Month traditions.
- Antoine: During Black History Month, I support Black businesses of all kinds: clothing, food, hygiene, self-care and art. There are so many Black business owners, especially small businesses, and entrepreneurs with a great product or service. They deserve both emotional and financial support.
- Chioma: I watch some Black classics and pick a novel from the Well-Read Black Girl Library!
- Kimberly: I buy from and support Black businesses year-round, but during BHM I really turn it up a notch and try to make sure anything I spend my money on is coming from a Black business. I also like to watch my favorite Black movies and TV shows all month and cook all my favorite childhood foods.
- Latisha: I enjoy watching Black films, reading Black literature and listening to Black podcasts and music. I do this regularly, but I really like the way that our talent gets amplified during BHM.
A Black leader who inspires you.
- Chioma: I’m inspired by Kimberle Crenshaw, civil rights advocate and critical race theory scholar, and President of MSNBC Rashida Jones.
- Georgia: Michelle Obama because she is truly a modern-day, revolutionary woman who has championed a multitude of important causes throughout her life. She is a Harvard graduate, lawyer, best-selling author and the first African American first lady. Michelle Obama is proof our country has indeed evolved.
- Jasmine: Madam CJ Walker has inspired me as a young Black woman really interested in hair care since the age of seven. Many people know her and admire her because she was the first Black millionaire. However, I think her civil rights work, dedication to improving the lives of African Americans through jobs and opportunities, and impacts on the hair care industry are significantly more admirable. She once said, “I am not satisfied in making money for myself. I endeavor to provide employment to hundreds of women of my race.”
- Jaymi: I am inspired by countless Black leaders who have blazed paths and continue to move the needle forward in modern-day civil rights and justice. A couple of the “under 18” leaders captivating me include Naomi Wadler, who at age 11 shifted the atmosphere during a March For Our Lives speech, and Marley Dias, the purpose-driven 16-year-old who founded #1000BlackGirlBooks and author of the book, “Marley Gets It Done.” I am amazed by how these young women shine and share their gifts with the world in brave and innovative ways.
- Kimberly: bell hooks. Her writing has been majorly influential in the empowerment of Black women to tackle love, race and gender inequalities, and more. I think her work is reviving a movement in Black women today.
- Latisha: A Black woman leader who inspires me is Judy A Smith, a crisis management expert. A Black male leader who inspires me is Malcolm X.
- Sedale: I have two for similar reasons, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Both give context to the things many of us believe but don’t always express through words. Many people know Dr. Kendi as the author of “How to Be an Anti-Racist,” but he is also director of the Center for Antiracist Research, which he started at American University (now at Boston). Both are advocates for many things, but chief among them is knowing better so that we can do better. This is my passion in this space as well.
Other reflections to share.
- Antoine: Black is beautiful, creative, fun, loving, persistent and brave. Be proud of your Blackness at all times.
- Jaymi: As someone who is inspired by history and reflective in nature, I am passionate about the work of future Black leaders – those who will be able to say they lived and created hope and light during some of the bleakest moments including a pandemic, heightened loneliness, civil unrest and turbulent political polarization. In a landscape where some states are wrestling with what it means to teach Black history, my hope is that Black History Month serves as a sort of north star in the conversation around the importance of teaching history with breadth and depth.
- Latisha: Cultural competency in the workplace is of high importance. During Black History Month, non-Black colleagues can show support by listening, respectfully engaging in conversation about Black history, and treating BHM and all other Black holidays as commemorations solely of Black people.
- Sedale: I believe Black history is American history. If you are wondering how to celebrate or observe, whether you identify as Black or not, learn about a Black leader you haven’t studied yet, or even learn more about a Black colleague and their experience. When we learn more about other communities, we can be better as a society.