National Geographic Staff Celebrates Black History Month

Disney BERGS play “Don’t Forget the Lyrics: A Tribute to Black Music.”

For this year’s celebration of Black History Month at National Geographic, the NOIR DC employee group focused on celebrating and commemorating the resilience of Black Americans. The group joined forces with other employee groups from across The Walt Disney Company to amplify their collective voices.

“There is nothing more important to me as the leader of this organization than building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive National Geographic. Together, we can create the change that will drive National Geographic forward.”

Gary Knell, Chairman, National Geographic Partners

NOIR is one of National Geographic’s Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs). The employee-led BERGs, which are formed around shared identity, interests or pursuits, are supported by Disney and help foster an environment where all colleagues can thrive.

NOIR was launched in September 2018 and is committed to empowering underrepresented communities and cultivating future Black leaders. 

This year’s robust lineup of virtual events included panel discussions, screenings, roundtables, meditation sessions, and much more. Starting off the month, NOIR hosted “Don’t Forget the Lyrics: A Tribute to Black Music,” featuring NOIR and other Black BERGs across Disney facing-off in an ultimate sing-along showdown!

“Beyond the Hashtag: Black Lives Matter” event. Featuring (L-R) Shanika Peterson, Steve Chung, Sujatha Bagal, Jeff Schneider, Anna Derryberry and Cole Ingraham.

A one-hour panel discussion titled “Beyond the Hashtag: Black Lives Matter” inspired, encouraged, and informed those in support of Black Lives Matter – not just the movement, but the actual lives. This event featured a candid discussion about how to navigate as an ally and what challenges are faced and how the movement continues to be a beacon of change. 

NOIR also hosted a screening of the documentary “An American Ascent,” followed by a Backstage Live interactive conversation featuring James Edward Mills, one of the writers of the documentary and a National Geographic magazine contributor. The film focused on the first African-American expedition to climb North America’s highest peak, Denali, and how these climbers set out to build a legacy of inclusion in the outdoor and adventure community. 

James Edward Mills Backstage Live screenshot

During the Nat Geo Live Backstage event, Mill also shared stories from his book, “The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors,” which recounts the history of Black men and women who defied cultural norms to accomplish remarkable feats in the natural world. He discussed how people of color have transformed U.S. national parks and he discussed how he is teaching diversity, equality, and inclusion in outdoor recreation to the next generation. 

Sponsored by NOIR and other Disney BERGs, a two-part virtual cooking experience honored the integral role that food plays in the community while highlighting special recipes from African-American Culinary Talent. “The Cultured Palette Series” featured Chef David Njorange and Chef Jessica Rodriguez, and was moderated by Debbi Sacleaux. 

In recognition of Black History Month, National Geographic had a variety of content offerings celebrating the history, heritage, accomplishments, culture, and contributions of Black Americans, including a one-hour documentary, a podcast special, and social media spotlights.