By Nicole Kilby, Chair of iBELIEVE ERG
As February ushers in Black History Month 2024, the Infosys Black Employee Resource Group, iBELIEVE, honors the invaluable contributions and achievements of Black people across the United States and Canada. This year, we are inspired by the theme set forth by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the founders of Black History Month —Black Americans and the Arts, and have planned programming that spotlight the extensive impact of Black Americans on our cultural tapestry, from the arts to fashion, music to technology.
In this blog post, we aim to explore the diverse history, lives, and contributions of Black American cultural change agents and artists.
The legacy of the Harlem Renaissance lives on in the visual and performing arts, as black artists, continue to redefine cultural narratives, passionately and innovatively challenging artistic norms. Notably, the emergence of the Techno-Vernacular Creativity (TVC) movement exemplifies this influence—a dynamic fusion of ancestral traditions and modern technology and innovation, creating authentic expressions of creativity. This movement acts as a bridge between the past and the future, showcasing how African Americans draw inspiration from their cultural roots while engaging with the evolving landscape of technology.
Celebrated authors such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison stand testament to the power of the Black Literary tradition. Their narratives transcend time, fostering a deeper appreciation for shared human experiences and serving as catalysts for social change.
Fashion has been reshaped by Black designers, from the Harlem Renaissance to the present day. The contributions of icons like Ann Lowe, Patrick Kelly and Virgil Abloh extend beyond the aesthetics of clothing. They have reshaped the narrative of the fashion industry, advocating for diversity, inclusivity, and authentic representation.
Black Americans have enriched our cultural landscape through Folklore, Language, and Cultural Expression. They have been masterful storytellers and linguistic architects, enriching the cultural landscape with an array of folklore and language that transcends generations. From the spirituals sung in the fields of slavery to the soulful melodies of blues music emanating from the Deep South, these cultural expressions served as both a form of resistance and a source of profound connection.
Black filmmakers and actors have left an indelible mark on the film industry, forging a cinematic legacy that stretches from the pioneering days of Oscar Micheaux to the present era of visionary storytellers like Ava DuVernay and Jordan Peele. Their contributions not only redefine storytelling but also serve as a powerful vehicle for exploring themes deeply rooted in Afrofuturism—a movement that envisions and reimagines the future through the lens of Black culture, history, and identity.
The influence of Black music is an indelible force that transcends borders and has left an enduring imprint on global culture. Jazz, blues, gospel, hip-hop and R&B—all have not merely shaped the music industry but have evolved into transformative cultural phenomena with a reach that extends far beyond musical boundaries. Pioneering artists such as Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, and Kendrick Lamar have harnessed their musical prowess to inspire and unite people across the globe.
Black architects and technologists have left an enduring impact on both physical and digital realms, imprinting their influence on the built environment and technological progress. Visionary architects like David Adjaye have not only redefined skylines but also mirrored the diversity and richness of African and Black diasporic cultures in architectural expression. In the field of technology, pioneers such as Mark Dean have played pivotal roles in shaping the trajectory of computer science. As a trailblazing engineer, Dean co-invented the personal computer and significantly contributed to advancements in hardware architecture.
Culinary arts have been shaped by renowned Black chefs like Marcus Samuelsson, Carla Hall, and Edouardo Jordan. Their innovative culinary creations, infused with flavors of Africa, the Caribbean and Black America, have left an indelible mark on the evolving tapestry of American cuisine.
As we embark on Black History Month 2024, iBELIEVE is proud to curate programming that highlights the remarkable contributions of Black artists, thought leaders, and culture makers. Let’s unite, learn, and amplify the vibrant narratives that have shaped our collective history.
Here is an overview of some of the great events that we have planned this month, all led by volunteer members of our ERG:
- Color and Sip session on the Black Arts Movement
- Lunch session on Hip-Hop and African American innovation
- A game night on Black culture and music
- A panel discussion on Generative AI’s impact on Black communities
- Lunch session on the Evolution of Black Fashion designers
- A presentation on Techno-Vernacular Creativity
We invite you all to explore the Infosys Multi Cultural Workforce & Racial Equity and Inclusion page and delve into our year-round programming that champions diversity initiatives. If you are an Infoscion, join us in making a meaningful impact on the acclimation, retention, and advancement of iBELIEVE constituents. Please reach out to Nicole Kilby for more information on iBELIEVE.