As a Black travel enthusiast with eight years in the industry, the arrival of Black History Month often feels like a missed opportunity rather than a celebration. Created by Carter G. Woodson in 1976, this month is meant to honor and amplify the contributions of the Black community worldwide. Unfortunately, every year most of the industry has treated it as an afterthought, and it shows.
Annually, like clockwork, I post a countdown on LinkedIn and Instagram for brands and destinations to do their due diligence, and still the Black community gets the short end of the stick. There's no excuse for not realizing it's approaching; if you can budget for PRIDE every June, you can budget for Black History Month every February.
But I'm here to offer insights so you truly understand, so let's shift our focus from what not to do and move toward how you can build a better campaign:
Don’t: Wait until it’s too late! Reaching out to creators and speakers on Jan 27 is embarrassing and exposes you as inauthentic. Start planning early, be thoughtful, and present a well-thought-out campaign.
Do: Start planning early and be intentional. Write a brief, be open to suggestions, and collaborate with your partners to create an impactful campaign.
Don’t: Assume Black people at your company want to be involved. Don't assume. Learn their names, understand their roles, and approach them respectfully. Being Black isn’t performative, so be considerate of their time and feelings.
Do: Learn about your colleagues and involve them thoughtfully. Know their interests, provide budgets for success, and remember that educating others about Black culture is not part of their job description.
Don’t: Tell the same stories we already know. We know Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Louis Latimer, and Malcolm X. Show you care by researching new stories and unsung heroes who have shaped your industry or destination.
Do: Research and celebrate new stories year-round. Explore archives, libraries, and speak to people who can share untold Black hero stories. Keep the celebration alive beyond March 1.
Don’t: Use speakers and creators just because they’re Black.: Avoid superficial choices. Ensure that your chosen professionals align with your brand values and are relevant to your audience.
Do: Utilize Black professionals who align with your values year-round. Include them consistently, recognizing that their knowledge and perspective are valuable beyond the confines of February.
In making these adjustments, the travel and tourism industry has the chance to create genuinely impactful campaigns for Black History Month. The effort you invest will undoubtedly yield a significant return. Nothing changes if nothing changes, but together, as an industry, positive change is possible. I'll be watching your campaigns, and sharing the best ones as WHAT to do for Black history month in 2025. Here's to creating memorable campaigns that truly honor and celebrate Black history.