Honoring Black History Month at INSHUR
Written by Bojana Ninkov
About four months ago, I shared how we celebrated UK Black History Month. Well, the time has now come to honor Black history in the US, an exciting first for us at INSHUR.
I was tasked with creating a plan on how we will honor and celebrate the profound and pivotal history of Black people in the United States. One thing I knew for sure was that I needed input from my teammates, so I opened it up to any volunteers who wanted to collaborate with me. I was lucky to have my colleagues, Brandon Littles and Chantal Williams, graciously volunteer their time. We had a brainstorming session and decided to create a grassroots presentation on the topic.
Brandon Littles decided that he was going to host a learning session on Untold Stories in Black History. He didn’t want to cover specific people or commonly known events, but rather teach us about things that our history classes likely left out. Brandon focused his session on four very significant slave rebellions that have been documented: San Miguel de Gualdape (1526), the New York Slave Rebellion (1712), the German Coast Uprising (1811) and Nat Turner’s Rebellion (1831). “As a Descendant of American Slaves, learning about these revolts added a new sense of American Pride within me” Brandon explained when sharing his research with the team.
Portrayed in the background of the picture above is the African American flag, which was created in 1990 by American artist David Hammons. “When he produced the flag, Hammons was inspired by two disparate symbols: The US flag and the Pan-African flag adopted by Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA)”, Brandon explained. “Realized in red, black and green, the UNIA flag’s powerful palette would continue to symbolize Black Power and the African Diaspora into the 1960s, 70s and beyond. The artist also drew from the stars and stripes design of Old Glory. Hammons’s hybrid interpretation brings into sharp relief the mixed messages of America’s checkered history”. It’s needless to say that we all appreciated the effort that was put into Brandon’s presentation and many found the session informative.
Given that our team is spread across the UK, Netherlands and the US, we wanted to find a creative way to give our colleagues an opportunity to learn something new. And what better way to learn about history than by really diving deep into specific events, some better known than others? With the help of Miro, we created a collaborative timeline for our Black History Timeline Game (see below) which was hosted by the amazing Chantal Williams.
We started out the game with 5 well known events on the timeline as our guiding points which were: 1) the first slave ship arrives to the US, 2) the Revolutionary War, 3) the Emancipation Proclamation, 4) Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and 5) the start of Barack Obama’s presidency. Each event had a yellow talk bubble attached which, once clicked on, would reveal more information about each event.
Each team received two events to learn about and they had to determine where their assigned events should be placed on the timeline. Teams were sent into Zoom breakout rooms to brainstorm and once they returned, Chantal walked us through each team’s events and where they belonged on the timeline. Check out the final product below.
The second part of honoring Black History month is dedicated to learning about inspirational Black people throughout US history. We did a similar activity for UK Black History month in October.
The session is a collaborative learning experience where each participant nominates an inspirational black person in US history who has contributed to society in a positive manner. All inspirational names are then entered into a draw and assigned to each participant to research and give a two minute talk on who they are and what they’ve achieved.
This special session will take place towards the end of February. The team is busy researching their historic figures, which include some not-so-well-known names like Fred Hampton, Wilma Rudolph and Katherine Johnson. I’m looking forward to learning more about each of them.
At INSHUR, celebrating Black History has been a fascinating and fun experience.
I’m curious to know what other companies out there are doing to celebrate and honor Black History month in the US?
Significant black figures throughout history, from top left to bottom right: Cicely Tyson, Paul Robeson, Shirley Chisholm, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Height, Marlena Shaw, Dorothy Height, Stacey Abrams, Fred Hampton, Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhimes, Wilma Rudolph, Hazel Scott, Maya Angelou and Alice Allison Dunnigan.