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As October heralds the start of Black History Month in the UK, The Drum takes a look at how brands are celebrating the Black British community in what has been a historic and troubling year.

2020 has been a decisive year for the Black community. After protests took place around the world following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of US law enforcement, people and brands alike are looking with fresh eyes at the systemic issue of racial inequality.

Black History Month UK is an annual event that celebrates the contribution made by the generations of those of African and Caribbean descent living in the UK, who have helped shape Britain’s national and cultural life. And, as a month that celebrates Black history, 2020 is certainly one for the history books.

To kick off Black History Month UK, The Drum has pulled together the various initiatives and commitments brands are making this momentous year, which will be updated throughout the month.

See below how brands are celebrating this year:

The Black Farmer: ‘Celebrating Black History’

To mark Black History Month, The Black Farmer is challenging the underrepresentation of Black people in the food industry, and its role in perpetuating negative stereotypes, such as in the case of Uncle Ben’s rice.

The cross-supermarket campaign aims to raise £100,000 for the Mary Seacole Trust and the Black Cultural Archives, and has seen Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose, Budgen’s, Ocado and Morrisons commit to in-store promotional space and a share of the profits.

Instagram: ‘#ShareBlackStories’

Instagram has partnered with some of the UK’s most iconic black voices to kick start a month of conversation on the platform.

Throughout October, influential Black British people will spotlight someone via IGTV on Instagram who has inspired them, shaped the black British experience, or who they feel deserves recognition. Alongside Toy Boy actor Ashley Walters who fronts the campaign, other notable people driving the campaign include the author of BRIT(ish), Afua Hirschcomedian, Dane Baptiste, the award-winning author, Yomi Adegoke and fashion designer Walé Adeyemi.

Bumble: #MyLoveIsBlackLove

Research done by social app Bumble shows that more than 3 in 4 Black people in the UK (79%) think there is a lack of relatable images and stories about dating as a Black person in the UK.

Together with Metallic, and leading British artists, actors, athletes, entrepreneurs and activists, Bumble is working to better document Black Love. #MyLoveIsBlackLove aims to better represent the breadth of Black Love in a real and uniquely British way.

eThroughout the month of October, more than 30 Black British voices will share real, unscripted reflections on what love means to them.

ITV: ‘It’s All About’

Black culture is brought brightly into focus on ITV as viewers will see brand new on-air trails along with channel idents marking and celebrating Black History Month.

The creative work will complement newly commissioned programmes and content showing across ITV channels and platforms throughout October. The campaign draws on the rich contribution of Black individuals to British life and culture across a wide range of areas from literature, history and science to music, food and fashion to deliver a visually vibrant, upbeat and thought-provoking palette.

Gap: ‘Black History Month Collection’

Meanwhile, Gap has linked up with four up-and-coming Black artists from across the globe to release a collection of collaborative and emotive T-shirts.

Featuring creatives from the UK, France and the US (Mario Hounkanrin, Melissa Hurst, Lo Williams and Stephennie Factor) each unique design represents what Black history means to them from their life experiences.

Royal Mail: ‘Royal Mail Black Postboxes’

Royal Mail has unveiled four special-edition black postboxes around the UK to mark the beginning of this year’s Black History Month.

The social media-activated postboxes are painted black, with a striking gold trim, and each features a figure of significance to the British black community, who has also appeared on a Special Stamp. Those featured include: Sir Lenny Henry CBE; Yinka Shonibare CBE RA; John Barnes, Nicola Adams and Marianne Jean-Baptiste

This list will be updated throughout Black History Month.


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