Art and Soul: Team Target Celebrates Black History

February 23, 2016 - Article reads in
Team members and guest speakers onstage at Target's unchARTed event

On Feb. 1, more than 200 audience members gathered in Minneapolis—including community leaders, Target team members and special guests—looked on as Lonnie Bunch, director of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, unveiled a preview of the museum ahead of its grand opening Sept. 24. It was an electrifying moment.

“The museum will be a place both to wrestle with our past and to find joy,” Lonnie said. “We wanted to create a place that uses African-American culture as a lens to understand what it means to be an American.” Target is a founding donor of the museum, and our CEO, Brian Cornell, serves on its council—so it was a proud moment for us, too.

Lonnie Bunch stands on a stage behind a podium with a shot of the museum interior on a big screen behind him.

The event—unchARTed, a panel discussion featuring influential African-American voices—kicked off a month’s worth of Target activities in celebration of black history. Other activities throughout the month included a lineup of guest speakers and performers, a volunteer outing to a local elementary school, merchandise for guests, and a history exhibit. Our African American Business Council (AABC) played a major role in bringing it all to life.

“Our goal throughout it all was to show the many contributions Africans and African Americans have made in our communities,” says Monée Williams, promotions lead, who captained the AABC’s Black History Month plans this year. “We’re excited to see how guests, team members and the community connect with art and culture in deeper ways.”

One of six diversity and inclusion business councils at Target, the AABC supports career development, and creates awareness and advocacy to enrich our team’s inclusive culture. Members often share insights with our planning teams that help our business. And the group plans events and activities throughout the year to get the team involved and engage with the community.

“At Target, we want every guest to feel welcome and included whenever they shop with us,” says Caroline Wanga, Target’s vice president of diversity and inclusion. “And each of our team members plays a role in making that happen. Their diverse perspectives and dimensions of difference help us create more relevant experiences for guests, and support for our communities. Celebrating heritage months like Black History Month is just one definitive example.”

Check out some photos and activities from this month's events:

Michele Norris stands at the podium with four panelists sitting on stools to her right.

Participants took the stage at unchARTed, our panel event celebrating African American voices in history, art and culture. NPR’s Michele Norris moderated the discussion with Lonnie Bunch, Caroline Wanga, and Lou and Sarah Bellamy of Minnesota’s nationally renowned Penumbra Theater. Afterward, AABC sponsors Tracey Burton, senior director, corporate social responsibility, and Jason Goldberger, president of and mobile, closed the event with a look ahead at the month's events.

On the left, a group of volunteers pose at a school; on the right, a woman sitting on a chair reads a book to a classroom.

On Feb. 8, AABC members held a volunteer event at a local elementary school for National African-American Parent Involvement Day. On the agenda? Games, black history trivia and a read-along featuring children’s books from Target’s collection.

Every Tuesday in the Target Café at our downtown headquarters, the AABC presented live music and spoken word performances, along with special lunch menu options from Jamaica, New Orleans, Somalia and Haiti. And to help our team discover more African-American artistry and culture, the AABC planned a happy hour featuring performances by Ashley Dubose from “The Voice” and other local artists, and a fashion show with music and art from Target’s collection.

At three of Target’s headquarters buildings, the AABC unveiled curated exhibits of contemporary artwork and Target products of the past and present, featuring African-American designers and partners. Check it out:

“The theme is all about celebrating African-American art and culture over the past century,” says Tawnya Artisst, design manager and AABC co-chair. “Black artists have consistently reflected a complex, authentic view of America. We wanted our exhibit to showcase the beauty in that authenticity.”

As part of the festivities, we'll welcome another exciting guest speaker to our Outer Spaces stage later this week. Check back soon to find out who it is and hear what he had to tell the team!

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