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RingCentral celebrates Black History Month exploring “Art as a Platform for Social Justice”

Honoring Black artists as catalysts for change


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  • February is Black History Month and RingCentral hosted discussions and events designed to educate, inform, and celebrate.
  • This year’s theme was “Art as a Platform for Social Justice.”

Throughout February, we celebrated Black History Month, an annual celebration that honors the pivotal role of Black individuals in history. The Black Employees at RingCentral Employee Resource Group (BE@R) explored the 2024 theme, “Art as a Platform for Social Justice,” with a series of activities highlighting how Black individuals have employed their artistic talents to drive social justice movements. 

BHM background

In 1926, scholar and historian Carter Woodson set out to promote and educate people about Black history and culture. His efforts to create a serious field of study and celebrate Black achievements were eventually recognized officially by President Gerald Ford, during the 1976 bicentennial. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of Black identity, “Negro History Week” had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” 

Internationally recognized celebrations

Black History Month is now an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African-American History Month. Celebrations are scheduled each February honoring both Lincoln’s birthday, who was involved in emancipating enslaved people, and Frederick Douglass’ birthday, a renowned abolitionist. It has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada, and more recently has been observed in Ireland and the United Kingdom. This year’s theme explores art forms as resistance, which can ultimately bring long-lasting change to society.

Resistance in all its forms

Last year we spoke with Senior Solutions Engineer and BE@R Co-Chair Ed Odom who told us “There’s never been advancement without resistance,” and resistance takes many forms. Food, art, literature, poetry, and music are all expressions of resistance. Some of Ed’s favorites include poets Langston Hughes and Amanda Gorman, artist Charles Gibbs (and his work The Keeper), author Lerone Bennet Jr. (Before the Mayflower), and musician Sam Cook (“Change is Gonna Come”). Historically, Black artists—musicians, poets, writers, visual artists, and dancers—have always inspired and encouraged social justice through their creative expressions.

Inclusion makes for a better workplace culture.

Social justice in the workplace includes efforts like employee support groups, mentoring, and outreach. These are just a few ways RingCentral makes a difference and drives for long-lasting societal change. After just two months on the job, we asked one new employee how Black History Month celebrations have enriched her experience at RingCentral. 

I’ve found the Black History Month celebrations at RingCentral to be truly inspiring and inclusive. It’s been an invaluable opportunity for me to share my personal reflections on the erasure of Black culture, particularly discussing topics like Black hair and the CROWN Act.

—Jessica Robinson, Senior Product Counsel (BE@R Member, Black History Month Planning Committee)

Celebration and representation make a difference

While at some companies it may seem like enough to simply acknowledge Black History Month, RingCentral’s full month of events goes the extra mile promoting a shared sense of community.

It’s been great to work for a company that celebrates Black History Month as much as RingCentral does. Most of the other companies I’ve worked for just send an email, and provide an empty gesture. But here we actually have regular meetings with fellow team members to talk about Black History, bring awareness to issues, and promote deeper togetherness and empowerment.

—Erik Pace, Professional Services Contact Center Engineer (Ally to the BE@R ERG, active member in our Black Lives Matter. All Together. RingCentral Group)

Black History Month Events.

This year’s Black History Month events included live sessions on “Art as a Platform for Social Justice.” The BE@R Black History Month committee addressed current topics including African Americans in the Arts, the effects of the celebration of Black culture and ancestry.

BHM Activities:

  • Feb 1 | 9am PT – Black History Month Kickoff Call with Ed Odom 
    • The kickoff of our Black History Month Celebration, focused on the theme: Art as a Platform for Social Justice. BE@R Co-chair Ed Odom facilitated a meaningful dialogue about how the Arts have served as a catalyst for social justice movements.
  • Feb 2 | 9am PT- AI Bias with Calvin Lawrence
    • Calvin Lawrence hosted a conversation on Artificial Intelligence (AI) Bias. Calvin Lawrence, a technologist at IBM and the author of “Hidden in White Sight: How AI Empowers and Deepens Systematic Racism,” and how AI needs to be applied with fairness and equity.
  • Feb 6 | 9am PT- Banned Black History with Jessica Robinson and Tasia Bromell 
    • This event focused on the erasure of Black literature, arts, history, and culture, exploring its profound impact on Black Americans.
  • Feb 13 | 9am PT- Attack on Civil Rights with Ed Odom
    •  This discussion delved into both historical and contemporary challenges facing civil rights movements.
  • Feb 15 | Black History Month Trivia 
  • Feb 28 | 12-2pm ET – In-Office Celebration, Ancestry with Ed Odom and Kelly Malone, and a Special Surprise Celebrity Guest
    • Black History Month Celebration with the BE@R ERG during our exciting in-office event featuring Ed Odom, Kelly Malone, and a special surprise celebrity guest actor/musician for an engaging Ancestry discussion. 
    • The in-office soul food lunch supported Black-owned businesses. Denver and Belmont offices also spotlighted Black chefs and recreated their recipes.
    • We also hosted a book giveaway Hidden in White Sight by Calvin Lawrence and Failing Up by Leslie Odom, Jr. 
  • Mondays | 9am PT – Black History Month Reflection Sessions
    • These sessions provided an open forum for dialogue and meaningful discussions on upcoming topics for the week or subjects covered in previous sessions.
  • Fridays | 10 am PT – House Party Fridays with DJ E-Trane (Elliott Broadnax)
    • One-hour music session to explore the impact of Black musicians in our global culture (fashion, film, dance, and social justice movements.)

Acknowledging a shared history.

RingCentral is proud to have hosted opportunities for our employees to honor Black history. 

“Recognizing Black History Month holds immense significance to me because it highlights the fact that Black history is integral to American history. Throughout the centuries, Black Americans have made monumental contributions to the fabric of our nation, while enduring injustice in the process. The opportunity to acknowledge this history and have genuine discussions has been nothing short of amazing and confirms I have joined a great team and culture.” – Jessica Robinson, Senior Product Counsel (BE@R Member, Black History Month Planning Committee)

Originally published Feb 29, 2024

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