Celebrating Black History Month with joy, community, and creativity
This year Adobe is recognizing Black History Month with events and activations around the theme: Joy, Community, Creativity – and I love it. As the Executive Sponsor of the Black Employee Network at Adobe (BEN), I’m excited about the month ahead.
Community has always been such an important part of my life. Even though my family was often the only Black one in our neighborhood, we always found people with whom we could celebrate MLK Day or Black History Month, and share lively conversation, great food, and connection. I learned early on that building community is critical and that’s why the BEN community at Adobe is so important to us all.
As we reflect on Black history and our experience, I’m aware that much of it necessarily includes the struggle, what we have overcome, and what work is left to be done.
But in the work of educating, sometimes we overlook the immense pride, joy, and creativity that is also part of our collective experience. Throughout Black history, we see incredible examples of music, dance, poetry, religious and community expression that Black people created. Have you ever seen the artistry of the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama? That’s just one of many examples where creativity transcended circumstances.
This year, I’m bringing the joy back. After two years of pandemic restrictions, I celebrated Christmas with my family in person and it filled me with joy. I’ve dug back into music from my childhood and now my mother’s favorite Motown hits help elevate my mood. The past two years helped me realize that I need to be much more intentional about doing the things that bring me joy. We all do. This month’s events are a great way to get started.
Recognizing Black History Month at Adobe
To bring this month’s theme to life, Adobe in partnership with BEN is launching Black History Month with a celebration of joy, community and creativity that includes employee storytellers, inspiring music, and conversations with artists (Derrick Boateng, Eddy Ekpo and Monica Ahanonu) about how they tap into their creativity. We’re also hosting a conversation with CNBC Anchor Jon Fortt about his curriculum addressing the Black experience and his career journey in media. Later in the month, we’re celebrating the beauty and history of Black hair with a candid conversation among Adobe employees.
This is also a good time to reflect on the progress Adobe is making through the Taking Action Initiative – launched in 2020 to accelerate growth and development for Adobe’s Black and underrepresented employees. This structure has been impactful in helping us move faster on key initiatives and drove progress in 2021 with a Juneteenth global day of learning with guest speaker, civil rights icon Ruby Bridges; the launch of the Adobe Anchor School Program to support Historically Black colleges and universities and a Hispanic-Serving Institution; and the expansion of the McKinsey Leadership Academy to include Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latinx employees, in addition to Black/African American employees.
As part of Adobe’s overall commitment to justice, we’re proud to support the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an organization that is dedicated to ending excessive punishment and mass incarceration, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights. This month, BEN is also raising money for the Sickle Cell Society and the Museum of the African Diaspora who are doing amazing work in our community.
Amplifying Black creators
As part of our social campaign History Recognized, we’re telling the stories of Black creators across history. Follow along on social to learn more about artists like Mark Bradford and Mickalene Thomas through the eyes of the creators they’ve inspired.
Across our TikTok and Instagram channels, we’ll feature the unique stories and work of Black creators and our weekly social series, Women Create Wednesday, will feature a special edition spotlighting four incredible Black women creators who are inspiring change in their communities: Blair Imani (author, educator, historian and influencer), Vanessa Newton (illustrator, doll maker and crafter), Monique Jones (photographer and videographer) and Jamilla Okubo (interdisciplinary artist).
To celebrate the independent films at the Sundance Film Festival, and the diverse voices behind them, Adobe and IndieWire are partnering together to present: Black Storytelling at the Sundance Film Festival, featuring Adamma Ebo, Mariama Diallo, Nikyatu Jusu, Tanya Lewis Lee and Gabriel Martins, moderated by Tabitha Jackson.
A special thanks
A special thank you to BEN and the members across the globe who are bringing Black History Month to life at Adobe. Specifically, I want to recognize our awesome planning team: Bria Alexander, Brandon Baker, Juliet Baker, Kimberly Le Deaux, Damon Guidry, Andrea Hardeman, Sherry Kaoues, Carita Marrow, Portia Neale and Cass Taylor for their efforts in planning and activating this year’s dynamic events across the globe, further creating an inclusive environment for everyone at Adobe.
Please join us this year as we seek opportunities to build community, celebrate creativity and unlock more joy!