In February, we recognize Black History Month to celebrate the contributions made by African Americans in the United States and around the world. Carter G. Woodson, the man credited with the birth of Black History Month said, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” Woodson has enslaved parents and became the second black person to earn a PhD at Harvard University. He believed Black History Month played (and continues to play) a crucial role in teaching young African American children about their history, and to be proud of it.
Our team at Player’s Health is passionate about diversity and Black History Month. Our Founder and CEO, Tyrre Burks, is a black man from Chicago that continuously breaks barriers and is passionate about leading a diverse company. The reality of the business world is we have a LONG way to go to incorporate more diversity into leadership teams at all-sized companies, as well as providing more opportunities for black-owned businesses to succeed.
According to the Founder Institute citing a Harlam Capital report from 2018, “just 105 companies with black or Latino founders have raised rounds of $1 million or more since 2000.” It’s also clear that the funding rate for black founders was around ten times below the demographic equity in the United States. Additionally, CB Insights says, “In 2015, only 1% of funded startup founders were black, but made up 11% of the overall US population.”
According to Coqual, black employees occupy only 3.2% of the senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S. and just 0.8% of all Fortune 500 CEO positions.
The good thing is… there are growing efforts to make change.
In 2020, we saw millions of people protest and speak out against systemic racism, specifically through police brutality. We are headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota and witnessed first-hand what happened in this city (and the rest of the country) in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. Our community is still healing, and we’ll continue to do so while making sure we teach black history, fight for the oppressed, and never forget the names of those who have been victims of police violence.
Systemic racism will not go away without force. Applying pressure to make the change we want to see will bring more opportunities to those who are oppressed. We will no longer see 1% of startup founders being black. We will no longer see 3% of leadership positions in large companies occupied by black employees. We will grow so our companies are representative of what America looks like: diversity.
We celebrate Black History Month to bring light to the stories of those who have gotten America to where we are today. Stay tuned to the Player’s Health blog for more spotlights on African Americans who have exhibited creativity, courage, and leadership.
As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
What can you do in honor of Black History Month?
The ASALH is hosting a virtual festival: https://asalh.org/festival/
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is offering digital programs to all ages throughout February: https://nmaahc.si.edu/about/news/book-discussion-ibram-x-kendi-and-keisha-n-blain-kicks-black-history-month-programming
What Black History Month means to us February 1, 2021