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Connecting with Black History Month

Think about your memories of Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring speeches, Jackie Robinson’s record-breaking plays and, more recently, President Barack Obama’s inauguration…are they, in fact, your memories, or snippets of TV news, specials and documentaries that you’ve stored as memories?

Black Americans share a rich history that is remembered and celebrated each year during the month of February. Across the US, commemorations take place in schools, community gatherings, churches and in the media. But among the most powerful reminders of our nation’s Black history are the indelible images that have been shared on Television…and thus committed to our memories.

Sight, sound, motion and emotion make broadcast Television the most influential and personal medium that reaches virtually every home in America and every American, regardless of ethnicity.

Each February, TV broadcasters honor that relationship by fortifying our memories of influential Black and African Americans and introducing us to that community’s newest role models – the latest, the Academy’s 2011 Best Supporting Actress, Octavia Spencer. Ms. Spencer won her Oscar for her role as a courageous maid who helped enlighten a small southern town about racial inequality in the movie, “The Help.” Her role, that particular story and the fact that she is the first Oscar winner from the state of Alabama, is sure to have made a lasting impression on the millions that shared her moment-in-history on broadcast television.

While Ms. Spencer’s win was an unplanned national TV opportunity for Black History Month, TV stations across the US have been planning and airing Black History commemorations designed to resonate with their specific local communities.

Over time, shifts in population, lifestyle and economy have created geographic concentrations of Black and African American households. In fact, Nielsen’s top 10 DMAs based on Black or African American Households shows significant differences versus overall US Household rankings. And, when ranked by Black or African American Households, some markets’ positions change dramatically – Jackson, Mississippi and Greensboro, North Carolina, for example, move up the ranking chart from #93 to #24 and #46 to #27, respectively. And according to Nielsen’s 2011 report, concentrations of Black and African American households are so significant that the top 25 markets account for 60% of their homes.

 Market Black or African American
Household Rank*
US Household Rank**
 New York 1 1
 Atlanta 2 9
 Chicago 3 3
 Washington, DC 4 8
 Philadelphia 5 4
 Los Angeles 6 2
 Dallas 7 5
 Houston 8 10
 Detroit 9 11
 Miami 10 16

*Based on Nielsen’s Local Television Market Universe Estimates: Black or African American TV Homes, effective September 24, 2011 **Based on Nielsen’s Local Television Market Universe Estimates, effective September 24, 2011
In markets like Greensboro and Jackson, Black History Month is a wonderful opportunity to reinforce memories of local events that have affected US history as well as celebrate the local citizens that contribute to its change every day. To commemorate the 52nd anniversary of the historic Woolworth’s sit-in, Greensboro’s WFMY-TV broadcast their news from that famous lunch counter, and Jackson’s WAPT produced and aired “Celebration of Heritage” vignettes featuring the achievements of numerous local black citizens.

Market by market and special program by special program, stations make Black History Month TV moments accessible to both viewers and sponsors. In doing so, advertisers have the opportunity to extend their brand connections with local consumers and acknowledge the changing role of Black and African Americans in the consumer economy. Because, according to the University of Georgia Selig Center for Economic Growth, in 2014, African-Americans will control nearly $1.3 trillion dollars in consumer spending power.


On the web: www.tvb.org

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