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TPP’s EDI Steering Group have chosen a different theme for each week of Black History Month this year. This week our theme is "Inspire". We have chosen to celebrate individuals who have inspired us and left a lasting legacy in black history. See below for more information on each person we have chosen to celebrate.
Working in the Marketing, Communications and Digital team here at TPP, I’m always interested in people who are innovators in their chosen sector, the ones that aren’t afraid to break down barriers and go against the status quo and people who are passionate about their chosen audiences.
Marketing communications pioneer Tom Burrell was undoubtedly one of those such people and is widely recognised with revolutionising the use of positive and realistic images of African Americans in advertising. Burrell was the first black person to work in a Chicago advertising agency. After ten years of advancing through the ranks, he and Emmett McBain opened their own agency, Burrell McBain Advertising. Part of Burrell's pitch was that "black people are not dark-skinned white people," referring to differences in music preferences and other cultural differences.
Burrell went on to develop campaigns for our nation’s most iconic brands, including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. Burrell retired in 2004, but Burrell Communications lives on, creating award-winning campaigns that do everything from bathe viewers in Maya Angelou’s tones of liberation to #RedefineBlack.
Burrell was later inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame He also authored two books, Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority and Brainwashed: Erasing the Myth of Black Inferiority.
Having family roots in Bristol, I’ve always had a strong interest in the rich history, especially knowing how diverse a city it is and from what my father had told me about growing up there.
Bristol’s first Black social worker and leading advocate for Black people’s rights. In 1963, inspired by Rosa Parks, Paul led a bus boycott against the Bristol Omnibus Company because of their refusal to employ Black or Asian people in public-facing driver or conductor roles. The boycott soon gathered pace, attracting the support of thousands of Bristolians, including local MP Tony Benn and Labour Leader Harold Wilson. Success came when, after 60 days, the bus company revoked their ‘colour ban’, soon employing the first person of colour in a public-facing role.
In 1964, Paul received further nationwide attention when he refused to leave a pub until he was served, protesting the ‘No Blacks’ policy it had in place. He was arrested, but the court later dismissed the case. Paul’s arrest and both of his campaigns became instrumental in paving the way for the first Race Relation Act 1965, which made racial discrimination unlawful in public areas.
In 2009, Paul received an OBE for his services to equal opportunities and he’s been awarded honorary degrees from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England in recognition of his pioneering work in race relations.
“If you were a young black person living in Britain, you couldn’t be a policeman, an ambulanceman or fireman. You couldn’t go into pubs, hotels, swimming pools, and now you couldn’t drive buses. I had been watching the amazing things that Martin Luther King had been achieving in America, and now I thought something had to be done here too.” - Dr Paul Stephenson
In 1993, at the age of just 18, Stephen Lawrence, an aspiring architect, was murdered in an unprovoked, racist attack.
His mother, Doreen Lawrence pursued justice for her son and, ever since his murder, has been a leading figure in the struggle for racist justice and advancement of social policy in Britain.
In 1998, in Stephen’s memory, she set up the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, initially focusing on supporting young people of Black heritage into careers in architecture. Over the years, the charity has broadened its work and programs across industries and with young people, community groups, and partner organizations to create long-term systemic change. In 2020, the charity was renamed Blueprint for All and continues to reach thousands of people every year.
“We want to inspire children to dream freely without barriers and to realize the absolute importance of education; we want to support and create new connections within all types of communities; and we want to work with big business to put black men from low-income families on a path towards the boardrooms of the UK’s most prestigious organizations.” - Baroness Lawrence
Baroness Lawrence also founded the Stephen Lawrence Day, which started on the 22nd April 2019, as an annual national commemoration of his death. The Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation exists to inspire a fairer and just society through Stephen's legacy to bring about equality, diversity, and inclusion for young people and communities globally.
“Justice for Stephen is about all of us, every one of us, in society having justice. There are still too many young people who do not have a sense of hope, who just don’t get the chance to live their dreams. I want all our children and young people to feel inspired, be confident and have hope in their own future. We are building hope but there is more to do.” - Baroness Lawrence
Lenford (Len) Garrison was an educationist, a community activist, and historian. In 1977, realizing the British education system was failing black children, as it denied the reality or existence of black history or culture, Garrison founded the Afro-Caribbean Education Resource (ACER). ACER’s aim was to give black children a sense of identity and belonging to be proud of, and one that could be traced back to their African roots. It would make them black British citizens, with a part to play in multicultural Britain. ACER provided educational resources for schools in Britain that had no materials or textbooks that related to the African and Caribbean pupils. Journals were also published for teachers to provide a broad-reaching education that included the backgrounds of all their pupils and, in turn, to help them counter racism. There was insight into how black children were discriminated against by people in authority. These pamphlets raised the awareness of teachers, who would otherwise have been unaware of the discrimination faced by their pupils. ACER’s black history educational packs went on to be used all over the country.
In 1981, along with other members of the Black British community, Garrison founded the Black Cultural Archives, with the mission to record, preserve and celebrate the history of people of African descent in Britain. Black Cultural Archives remains the UK’s leading non-governmental and heritage institutional voice for the Windrush Generation.
“We need our own Archives where important acts and achievements of the past, which are now scattered or pushed into the margins of European history can be assembled; where facts now presented as negative, can be re-presented from our point of view, as positive factors in our liberation.” - Len Garrison
Author – The Anti-Racist Organization (Dismantling systemic racism in the workplace) LinkedIn Top Voice 2022
Shereen Daniels’ leadership career spans over 17 years, prior to 2019 she embarked on an MP Leadership Scheme with the House of Commons and Operation Black Vote which has an objective to increase representation within UK politics. An advocate for anti-racism in business and MD of racial equity advisory firm HR Rewired, Shereen is a proactive champion for the need to focus on transformative change which removes structural barriers, not transactional change which “fixes” people to overcome them.
Shereen’s book is a straight to the point, clearly written and gives an insight into what Black people experience in the workplace and what you can do to actively dismantle racist systems in your business. Informative, insightful, and illuminating this book details what needs to happen next. A must-read for business leaders who want action not words.
Her no-nonsense, straight to the point but with humor and compassion personality has brought many supporters and followers, also making her popular for tackling dialogue surrounding racism on many platforms. We celebrate Shereen for driving the anti-racism conversation forward with real momentum.