For as long as many of us can remember, the month of February has always been synonymous with Black History. Each year, we pay homage to those whose brilliance and perseverance have afforded us access to the basic rights we’d been denied. While we continue to fight for space, the battles we face today are a little different. This reality is exactly what caused members of The Wave USA (The Wave) to reconfigure their idea of Black History Month three years ago. “I would look back at great leaders like Dr. King, Malcolm X, and George Washington Carver in admiration but it always baffled me how distant they felt. As I got older and studied our history and culture I learned how short of a time ago that was and how much more we have continued to accomplish and there is still work to be done,” said Greg Jackson, co-founder.
What started as a simple slogan to promote a bar crawl, has grown into a platform for the celebration of people creating history in the now. “It was Black History Month and we wanted to celebrate those who came before us but we also wanted to celebrate ourselves and those around us doing great work. It started as something we put on a wristband, the next year it became a t-shirt for our team captains during the crawl. In 2019, Greg came up with the idea of doing a social media rollout where we focused on different people doing excellent work and highlighting them throughout the month, using ‘Living Black History’ as the moniker of the campaign,” explained co-founder Jason Kelley. “We have so many friends and know of people that are doing great things around here and you don’t always get a pat on the back or a chance to be highlighted or anything like that, so it was good to give them the chance to represent themselves and their businesses and show our community there are people doing great things now,” added their partner Sabrina Harvey.
For The Wave, living and exuding black history is about impact. It’s about being aware of one’s place in the greater community and doing your part to uplift and empower those around you. Which is why it comes as no surprise that a central aspect of their mission is to work with and otherwise support black-owned businesses.
Last year’s group of honorees felt more close to home, including many of the team’s friends and acquaintances. This year, they sought to expand further into the D.C. landscape and amplify the campaign’s reach to a wider audience To achieve this, a partnership was forged between The Bridge and Black With No Chaser, a digital platform reporting on all aspects of black life.
“I see D.C. as a hub for Black innovation. There are so many movements coming out of the city. It’s like the Harlem Renaissance,” explained Greg on the importance of focusing more on those with deep roots in the city.
He went on to state, “We wanted to partner with the Washington Informer Bridge for this project because it represents what the Black Press has been to our community throughout history, a unique space for telling our local stories.”
“We’re excited to include Black With No Chaser in this year’s campaign as it’s a national multi-platform outlet dedicated to telling the stories of the African diaspora,” adds Jason.
Throughout February, followers can expect to see daily content across The Bridge website. Living Black History Instagram (@LivingBlack History) as well as Black With No Chaser’s Facebook and IG accounts (@BlackWithNoChaser).
Additionally, The Wave has a month full of activations from networking to trivia and of course. the infamous Black Bar Crawl. Kicking off the monthlong celebration will be a brunch at RedRocks on H Street NE on Feb.
Stay tuned to see this year’s class of honorees and for our special February edition.