Black History Month: No Gratitude for Platitudes

February marks Black History Month (BHM), when many organizations host events and educational programming and celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans and their contributions to society. 

Here’s our guidance on the best practices to guide BHM commemorations and related communications this year:

  • No gratitude for platitudes. Offer specific updates and examples on your progress towards advancing racial equity and social justice. 
  • Stick to the script. Avoid ad lib and “winging it;” rather prepare, research, practice, be sensitive to language and tone and socialize remarks with a diverse group.
  • Speak authentically. Don’t deliver a message that can be perceived as disingenuous and perfunctory. Add personal perspectives and examples of the positive significance of BHM.
  • Best bet is to vet. Conduct thorough due diligence on external speakers’ affiliations, organizations, social media commentary and profile and public stances on controversial topics. 
  • Prepare for the skeptics and critics. Develop a tough Q&A that answers questions and perhaps even critical comments—including but not limited to mentioning that the month presents an opportunity for everyone to examine how certain legacies of racial injustice persist in systems and institutions, and have led to unfair outcomes.