How Not to Become Black History

By some accounts, and rightfully so, multicultural advertising is going the way of the leisure suit. And except for my Uncle Bo, most are fine with the disappearance of the built-in belted bell-bottomed one-piece for grown folks. However, the wealth of culture that is the ethnic experience in America should not so quickly be put aside and the accounts thrust into the hands of inexperienced and under-equipped shops just for the sake of easier brand management. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that brand management no longer feels that way. I feel the onus is completely on multicultural agencies to prove they’re not to be reduced to sardonic footnotes in the annals of advertising history. Here are some suggestions on how to avoid becoming Black history.

Read the entire article at AdAge.

PRSA Diversity Committee Offers Free Webinar Today for Black History Month

Join the PRSA Diversity Committee today in celebrating Black History Month with a free webinar that focuses on the African American market. “The Remix: Valuable Insights to the African American Consumer That Will Increase Your Brand Connection and Expand Your Market Share” will help you:

  • Gain a fresh perspective on the African American consumer.
  • Learn what African Americans spend money on.
  • Learn why being relevant matters when making a connection.
  • Gain insights on who the trendsetters in this community are.

The webinar will be presented by Kimberley Thompson, senior program manager, global diversity, Starbucks Coffee Company, today, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. EST. Register here.

Black History Month is About Real People that Impacted My Life

Mike McQueen and Bernadette Morris both marked my life by opening doors of opportunities for me.

In order to bring Black History Month to life, I like to tell my children about real African Americans that have impacted my life so today I want to acknowledge two Black Americans (a man and a woman) who blessed my life personally and professionally.

The first individual, Mike McQueen, played an important role in my career in the early 1990s when I was only a police desk cub reporter at The Miami Herald.  McQueen, as we fondly called Mike, was a brilliant assistant city editor who was as popular in the newsroom for his sharp, wise cracking humor as we was for being a reporter’s editor.  During my time at The Herald’s police desk, Mike was often the ONLY editor who consistently gave this blue-collar kid from Miami’s Little Havana the opportunities to go out on real “live” crime story assignments.  Before he succumbed to cancer in 2009, I was fortunate enough to tell him how much I appreciated what he did for me. (more…)

Maya Angelou Offers First Public Radio Show During Black History Month

This February Maya Angelou will host her first-ever public radio program. The one-hour broadcast is available to all PRI, Public Radio International, affiliated stations and African American Consortium stations free of charge.

Intimate and provocative stories, poems and conversations will illuminate African American history including comedy, film and family life, rounding out the hour with memories of “mother and sister friend,” the late civil rights activist Dorothy Height. The producer of the show is RCW Media Productions.

Read the entire article at Target Market News.

Diverging Into Diversity: A Communications Strategy

In celebration of Black History Month in February, PRSA invited prominent black leaders in the public relations profession to offer their views and ideas for achieving greater racial and ethnic diversity in the industry. This is the first in the series.

PRSA is also curating articles and blog posts throughout Black History Month via an open and collaborative wiki. Check out our Black History Month wiki here and add your posts.

It’s not a coincidence that the words “diverge” and “diverse” begin with the same five letters. When you peel back their common usages, what you will find is that both of these words can be connected by a common theme: different.

As the month of February begins and many Americans look to honor and celebrate Black History Month, diversity will get a little more attention than it typically enjoys. Employers across the spectrum will tout the diversity of their workforce, or highlight their support of minorities and/or minority issues. And while the advances many employers have made in minority hiring should be applauded, there is one internal function that could benefit from the addition of some different voices, and that is communications.

Read the entire article at PRSAY.

NAACP launches multimedia website through a $500k Verizon Foundation grant

BASKING RIDGE, N.J.– The NACCP has launched the NAACP Interactive Historical Timeline, a multimedia website that tells the story of the 101-year-old civil rights organization through words, pictures and video and narrated by actor Laurence Fishburne and other celebrities.

NAACP Interactive Historical Timeline

NAACP Interactive Historical Timeline

The Web site,, was funded through a $500,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon. Resources from the NAACP timeline will also be made available to teachers, students and parents through Verizon Thinkfinity (, a free educational Web site.

Verizon Thinkfinity educational website

Verizon Thinkfinity educational website

“A look back at the first 100 years of the NAACP’s history shows tremendous progress that has taken place since W.E.B. Du Bois and his co-founders first formed the organization in February 1909,” said Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP. “It also shows there is still more work to be done. I encourage everyone to spend a few moments on the NAACP interactive timeline, to look around, explore, discover and learn.”

The timeline provides an easy-to-follow chronological listing of the NAACP’s role in key events in the civil rights movement, education and an array of other topics. Each point on the timeline includes a written narrative, historic video and photos as well as an audio narrative read by a celebrity such as actor, director and producer Laurence Fishburne; actress and singer Tatyana Ali; actress Tichina Arnold; actor Dennis Haysbert; actress and director Nia Long; actress Tracee Ellis Ross; actor Nate Parker; and actress and director Chandra Wilson.

“Using technology to expand educational opportunity for all is a key mission of the Verizon Foundation,” said Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston. “We are proud to partner with the NAACP to help bring its important lessons of the past to the students of today in a dynamic, engaging format. And we are happy to add information from the NAACP Timeline to the robust pool of teaching resources available through Verizon Thinkfinity.”

Verizon Thinkfinity is a free educational Web site that contains thousands of engaging resources that make learning fun. Lesson plans, in-class activities and homework help can be found quickly and searched by grade level, keyword or subject.

PRSA celebrates Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, PRSA is spotlighting the role of African-American scholars and practitioners in advancing the public relations profession.

PRSA has invited prominent leaders in the public relations profession to offer their views on race and public relations and their ideas for achieving greater racial and ethnic diversity in the industry. Wilma Ruth King, associate professor of public relations at the Rochester Institute of Technology, began that series Wednesday with a PRSAY blog post titled, “Solidifying Public Relations and its Professionals Through Diversity.”

As she wrote, “Answers for many of today’s social, religious, political, technological and environmental concerns will come from a collaborative team of next generation practitioners; the more diverse their ethnicities, experiences and interests, the more creative and unique their ideas will be.”

Gary McCormick, APR, Fellow PRSA, the Society’s 2010 Chair and CEO, started the month by honoring D. Parke Gibson, the pioneering African-American PR professional, in a blog post at PRSAY.

In 1990, PRSA established an award in his name: the D. Parke Gibson Pioneer Award. It is PRSA’s highest individual honor presented to a public relations professional who has contributed to increased awareness of public relations within multicultural communities and participated in promoting issues that meet the needs of these diverse communities.

“The 84-year tradition begun by historian Carter G. Woodson has witnessed historic milestones in the journey of African-Americans to have their voices heard and unique achievements recognized and celebrated,” said McCormick. “During February, PRSA is honoring their unique contributions to the public relations professional with the personal thoughts and reflections of prominent African-American members of the PRSA community.”

Look for more thought leadership on diversity throughout Black History Month. Meanwhile, PRSA’s National Diversity Committee has assembled a variety of resources dedicated to furthering the cause of diversity within the public relations profession:

PRSA also has a number of tools available to assist our Chapters in furthering the cause of diversity in their local areas:

If you are interested in helping PRSA promote diversity in the public relations profession by volunteering to serve on our National Diversity Committee, send an e-mail to

U.S. Cellular joins Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Virginia in Observing Black History Month

ROANOKE, Va.– U.S. Cellular has teamed up with the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Virginia to honor the contributions of African Americans and encourage creativity among young people.  The 3rd Annual Black History Art Competition invites Boys & Girls Club members to select an influential African American and develop his or her likeness into an original 8.5 x 11 portrait using any art medium.

“We are proud to support this educational opportunity for the kids,” said Dee Taylor, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in the Mid-Atlantic. “This contest brings out their creativity while paying tribute to a host of influential African Americans.”

Winners will be awarded the following prizes at a special recognition ceremony on Feb. 23:

 1st place: $500 Gift card
 2nd place:  $200 Gift card
 3rd place:  $150 Gift card

Verizon Wireless partners with UNCF for African-American scholarship program

ORANGEBURH, NJ – Verizon Wireless is partnering with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) for a scholarship essay contest that will award 25 high school students between $2,500 and $5,000 as well as Verizon products.  The Black History Month contest asks students to address “How Wireless Technology Has Changed the World We Live In.”

“It is imperative students interested in challenging and improving themselves through higher education get the support they deserve,” said Pat Devlin, president of Verizon Wireless’ NY Metro Region. “Diversity and ongoing education have always been pillars of the Verizon Wireless culture, so we’re very proud to partner with the UNCF to create these scholarships and help highly-motivated students prepare for the road ahead.”

“The 21st century economy runs on technology,” said Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., UNCF President and CEO.  “This contest is a great incentive for students to think about how that affects all our lives and to compete for help in paying for their college education. We thank Verizon Wireless for their ongoing support of UNCF and the aspiring young leaders who depend on UNCF for help in getting the education they need and our nation needs them to have.” announces Black History Month channel

LOS ANGELES, CA– In honor of Black History month, is offering the first broadcast channel exclusively dedicated to celebrating the historic and contemporary accomplishments made by people of African descent the world over.

The channels  programs share a common theme of a great people in the diaspora whose perseverance, ingenuity and dignity has facilitated individual and collective achievement. “From NYC to Rio, from Cairo to Kingston, Paris to Atlanta, Soweto to Tokyo and everywhere in between, the achievements and global influence of the children of Africa is undeniable,” says Justin Beckett, founder and CEO of BTV247, Inc.

“Our aim is to continue to take the guess work out of surfing the web and offer viewers the most compelling Black-inspired programming – 247.  The channel will showcase some of the most inspiring and informative storytelling available on the net and our team will continue to curate videos, suggested by our enthusiastic user base, throughout Black History Month,” adds Cecil Cox, co-founder and President of BTV247, Inc.

AT&T launches ’28 Days’ campaign and web site during Black History Month to inspire and empower African Americans

DALLAS, TX –  AT&T is launch a “28 Days of inspiration” campaign and a Web site to celebrate the history, contributions and culture of African Americans this February.  The 28 Days campaign is a program AT&T created to highlight February as more than a reflection of the rich past, but “an unimaginable footprint to what the future holds beyond Black History Month in the African American community.”

“The essence of the 28 Days campaign and new interactive Web site is to encourage us all to re-think what we do during Black History Month,” said Jennifer Jones, vice president of Diverse Markets, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “AT&T is unleashing 28 Days to demonstrate our commitment and dedication to enriching the lives of African Americans, and to keep pressing toward future progress where we live and work. Our products and services empower African Americans by meeting their technology needs in their homes, schools and offices.”

28 Days features an exclusive speaker series showcasing health fitness champion Laila Ali at the Marriott Oakland City Center on Tuesday, February 9 in Oakland, Ca.; Hip-Hop media mogul and philanthropist Russell Simmons at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium on Wednesday, February 10 in Washington, D.C.; branding and marketing expert Erin Patton at the DuSable Museum of African American History on Tuesday, February 16 in Chicago, Ill.; and social activist and political commentator Jeff Johnson at Clark Atlanta University on Wednesday, February 24 in Atlanta, Ga.

“The four individuals who are part of our speaker series are making significant contributions in the African American community and to our country,” said Jones. “These individuals offer unique perspectives for our audiences. We think these events are a big part of celebrating Black History Month and they will provide an inspirational and memorable experience for all who attend.”

The 28 Days campaign and Web site are designed to encourage consumers to not let a day go by without completing an activity that helps them move closer to achieving some of their life goals. The interactive Web site acts as an online community for consumers to make their own history, download personal calendars, sign up to receive daily inspirational text alerts from 28 People in Motion, and connect with other goal-oriented members, among other features.

The Spirit of UNCF, the 28 Days campaign, and the sponsorship of An Evening of Stars®, are just a few of the ways AT&T supports education, business and technology within the African American community. For more information about 28 Days visit

Through its philanthropic arm, the AT&T Foundation, AT&T has a strong legacy of supporting organizations and has provided more than $2.8 million over the past ten years to organizations focused on the empowerment of the African American community, including the UNCF, the National Urban League, NAACP, National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National Council of Negro Women, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, 100 Black Men and the Black Leadership Forum.

Handy Black History Month facts for multicultural PR marketers

WASHINGTON, DC – The Census Bureau has released a comprehensive list of key Black History Month facts and figures that are helpful to multicultural PR marketers.

Background to Black History Month

To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926.  For many years, the second week of February was set aside for this celebration to coincide with the birthdays of abolitionist/editor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month. Each year, U.S. presidents proclaim February as National African-American History Month.


41.1 million

As of July 1, 2008, the estimated population of black residents in the United States, including those of more than one race. They made up 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population. This figure represents an increase of more than a half-million residents from one year earlier.

Source: Population estimates 3.html

65.7 million

The projected black population of the United States (including those of more than one race) for July 1, 2050. On that date, according to the projection, blacks would constitute 15 percent of the nation’s total population.

Source: Population projections 6.html


Number of states with an estimated black population on July 1, 2008, of at least 1 million. New York, with 3.5 million, led the way. The other 17 states on the list were Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Source: Population estimates 4.html


Percentage of Mississippi’s population that was black in 2008, highest of any state. Blacks also made up more than a quarter of the population in Louisiana in 2008 (32 percent), Georgia (31 percent), Maryland (30 percent), South Carolina (29 percent) and Alabama (27 percent). They comprise 56 percent of the population in the District of Columbia.

Source: Population estimates 4.html


The increase in Georgia’s black population between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2008, which led all states. Texas (64,000), North Carolina (45,000) and Florida (41,000) also recorded large increases.

Source: Population estimates 4.html


Number of states or equivalents in which blacks were the largest minority group in 2008. These included Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. (Note: Minorities are part of a group other than single-race non-Hispanic white.)

Source: Population estimates 4.html

1.4 million

The number of blacks in Cook County, Ill., as of July 1, 2008, which led the nation’s counties in the number of people of this racial category. Orleans Parish, La., had the largest numerical increase in the black population between July 1, 2007, and July 1, 2008 (16,400).

Source: Population estimates 4.html

Among counties with total populations of at least 10,000, Claiborne County, Miss., had the largest percent of population that was black (84.4 percent). Claiborne led 77 majority-black counties or equivalents, all of which were in the South.

Source: Population estimates 4.html


The proportion of the black population younger than 18 as of July 1, 2008. At the other end of the spectrum, 8 percent of the black population was 65 and older.

Source: Population estimates 3.html

Note: Unless otherwise noted, the estimates in this section refer to the population that was either single-race black or black in combination with one or more other races.

Serving Our Nation

2.3 million

Number of single-race black military veterans in the United States in 2008. More military veterans are black than any other minority group.

Source: 2008 American Community Survey



Among blacks 25 and older, the proportion who had at least a high school diploma in 2008.

Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008 .html


Percentage of blacks 25 and older who had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2008.

Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008 .html

1.4 million

Among blacks 25 and older, the number who had an advanced degree in 2008 (e.g., master’s, doctorate, medical or law). In 1998, 857,000 blacks had this level of education.

Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2008 .html

2.5 million

Number of black college students in fall 2008. This was roughly double the corresponding number from 15 years earlier.

Source: School Enrollment – Social and Economic Characteristics of Students: October 2008 .html


About 2.1 million

The increase in the number of black voters between the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, to 16.1 million. The total number of voters rose by 5.4 million, to 131.1 million.

Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of 2008 ml


Turnout rate in the 2008 presidential election for the 18- to 24-year-old citizen black population, an 8 percent increase from 2004. Blacks had the highest turnout rate in this age group.

Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of 2008 ml


Turnout rate among black citizens in the 2008 presidential election, up about 5 percentage points from 2004. Looking at voter turnout by race and Hispanic origin, non-Hispanic whites and blacks had the highest turnout levels.

Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of 2008 ml

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance


The annual median income of single-race black households in 2008, a decline of 2.8 percent (in 2008 constant dollars) from 2007.

Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008 4227.html


Poverty rate in 2008 for single-race blacks, statistically unchanged from 2007.

Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008 4227.html


The percentage of single-race blacks lacking health insurance in 2008, not statistically different from 2007.

Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008 4227.html

Families and Children


Among households with a single-race black householder, the percentage that contained a family. There were 8.5 million black family households.

Source: 2008 American Community Survey


Among families with single-race black householders, the percentage that were married couples.

Source: 2008 American Community Survey

1.2 million

Number of single-race black grandparents who lived with their own grandchildren younger than 18. Of this number, 50 percent were also responsible for their care.

Source: 2008 American Community Survey

Homeownership – the American Dream


Nationally, the percentage of households with a householder who was single-race black who lived in owner-occupied homes.

Source: 2008 American Community Survey


The percentage of single-race blacks 16 and older who worked in management, professional and related occupations.

Source: 2008 American Community Survey


$88.6 billion

Revenues for black-owned businesses in 2002. The number of black-owned businesses totaled nearly 1.2 million in 2002. Black-owned firms accounted for 5 percent of all nonfarm businesses in the United States.


The number of black-owned firms in New York in 2002, which led all states. New York City alone had 98,080 such firms, which led all cities.


The number of black-owned firms operating in 2002 with receipts of $1 million or more. These firms accounted for 1 percent of the total number of black-owned firms in 2002 and 55 percent of their total receipts, or $49 billion.


The number of black-owned firms with 100 or more employees in 2002. Firms of this size accounted for 24 percent of the total revenue for black-owned employer firms in 2002, or $16 billion.

Source: Black-Owned Firms: 2002

Note:  The 2007 Preliminary Estimates of Business Ownership by Gender, Ethnicity, and Race will be available in July 2010 and the more detailed 2007 Black-Owned Businesses report will be published in February 2011.