What Brands Can Do for MLK Day, Black History Month

Monday, the nation will observe the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
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Photo: YouTube

Next Monday, the nation will observe the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday behind the backdrop of several major crises in America and during ongoing conversations about racial policing systemic racism, social injustice and regarding social responsibility including by those in corporate America.

Nearly six months ago in the wake of the unconscionable murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, millions took to the streets to say “enough is enough.” Prompted by the undeniable urgency of the moment, foundations, corporations, and brands — large and small — took a stand. They not only declared that Black lives matter, but acknowledged that racism exists. They went beyond mere declaration and took action to boldly confront injustices.

The support of these new partners, along with our fellow activists, helped the NAACP continue the work we do day-in and day-out in communities across the country. We have assisted Black businesses damaged during the protests, uplifted Black entrepreneurs looking to grow or scale, provided housing grants to families at risk of foreclosure during the coronavirus pandemic, and challenged racist policies and practices through the courts.

Organizations such as Nasdaq are putting in place measures to ensure board diversity for companies listed on the stock exchange. Philanthropists such as MacKenzie (Bezos) Scott have contributed millions to support the critically important role of HBCUs, and foundations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have invested in new approaches to advancing health equity.

History, however, has taught us that the road to justice is long and arduous. It is impossible to undo 400 years of systematic racism in mere months.

As we head into Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History Month, those committed to dismantling racism, those pushing for change, and those advocating for justice will be looking for ways to demonstrate their commitment to advancing a more equal society.

The time for words and statements is gone. This is the year for deeper, more concrete actions.

Invest in MLK Day and Black History Month All Year Long.

In addition to participating in the MLK Day of Service on Jan. 18, brands can:

  • Sign the Equal Pay Pledge to ensure all employees get equal pay for equal work by December 2021
  • Take a year around approach to embracing the spirit of MLK Day and Black History Month
  • Publish a progress report on June 2020 stated actions by June 2021
  • Join the One Million Jobs Campaign
  • Fund support for diversity and inclusion leads within your organization
  • Provide sustaining support to local social justice organization
  • Become a Corporate Member of your local NAACP
  • Source more diverse candidates by adding to the NAACP Job Board

The work to upend the underbelly of discrimination in this country and around the world demands engagement from all people, sectors, and industries.

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