Black History Month, which began in 1926 as “Negro History Week,” has been observed every February since then in Canada and the United States (October in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands). It started as a way to remember important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. From its birth, the primary emphasis was encouraging the coordinated teaching of American black history in public schools.
The first 28-day celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State University starting on February 1, 1970. Six years later, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month, sparking celebrations all across the country in educational institutions, centers of black culture, and community centers.
“Mad” Black Men and Women
Much has been written about the men and women who shaped the field of advertising. However, the contributions of African-Americans to the advertising business have largely been omitted from these accounts.
The phrase “Mad Men” was a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue, where the explosive growth of advertising agencies fueled American dreams. Trailblazing African-American men and women launched their careers during the Mad Men era and went on to have prominent, long-lasting careers. Starting in the mailroom and as secretaries, they worked their way through the ranks of major advertising agencies: They became the industry’s first black managers, created timeless advertisements that stuck in the minds of consumers, and established successful agencies of their own.
Adding to Black History
The campaign #adding2bhm is a hashtag used to follow the stories of these African-American pioneers, Mad Men and Women whose spirit lives on. Throughout February, AD 2 DC will chronicle the stories of eight industry mavens—in 280 characters or less—who have added to Black History, changed the way we think of advertising, and continue to open doors through their lives and contributions.
The hashtag is derived from a larger campaign story, #adding2diversity, that AD 2 DC uses to share industry news focused on diversity and inclusion. #adding2diversity is an ongoing campaign that members are encouraged to use beyond Black History Month.
Please share your Black History Month experiences and aid the #adding2bhm campaign.
Iyana Moore is a Senior Media Relations Specialist at M-NCPPC’s Department of Parks and Recreation in Prince George’s County and principal consultant of The Digital Media Studio, a digital media consulting firm specializing in social media management, content creation, and brand positioning. She is the Diversity & Inclusion Chair for AD 2 DC. Follow her on Twitter.