Bridging the Gap Between #SayHerName and the African American Policy Forum

October 7, 2020

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Earlier this summer, as the murder of George Floyd flooded our news, companies around the world were forced to reflect on our country’s history of structural racism, prompting long-overdue conversations and action across all levels. At FleishmanHillard, the protests around Floyd’s murder inspired several notable actions, including recurring and reflective all-staff conversations, the launch of a new client offering focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (True Mosaic), and the naming of our first chief diversity officer, Emily Graham.

But, one of the actions I’m especially proud of is the launch of a pro bono FH4Inclusion and True Mosaic partnership with the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), the organization that founded the #SayHerName campaign. Founded in 1996, AAPF is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that convenes academics, activists and policymakers to promote efforts that dismantle structural inequality. Following the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in 2014, AAPF joined thousands of other protestors and advocacy groups to protest anti-Black police brutality. Marching under a banner with the names of Black women who were killed by police, the group began chanting, “Say! Her! Name!,” giving rise to the #SayHerName campaign that’s since taken over the nation. AAPF was able to clearly articulate that people often knew the names of Black male victims, but unfortunately few knew the names of Black female victims.

Despite the success of the #SayHerName campaign (the hashtag has gone viral) and well-known stature of AAPF Executive Director Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw, AAPF has struggled to connect the founding institution back to the #SayHerName campaign. Leveraging talent from across the global Omnicom network, FleishmanHillard was tasked with closing the gap between AAPF and #SayHerName using traditional media, fundraising and high-profile partnerships, social media and website improvements.

Over the course of three months, we’ve helped AAPF develop a meaningful partnership with the WNBA, launch the first-of-its-kind Gucci Chime for Change guest-edited publication, and secure and prepare AAPF for interviews with O, The Oprah Magazine, CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, the Guardian, NPR and more.

As our country continues to reckon with and address structural inequity, our work with AAPF is even more important. This partnership serves as an immense opportunity for both our firm and individual colleagues to create the difference we all collectively want to see.

Below are a few quotes from our team that showcase just how meaningful this work really is.

  • “We must continue to shed light on the racial injustices occurring within our country and police departments. We must continue to #SayHerName. That is the only way we will see change.” – Francesca Weems, account supervisor, San Francisco, California
  • “There’s nothing like seeing someone who looks like me make a significant change when it comes to diversity, equity and justice, and being able to be a part of the work Dr. Crenshaw and AAPF are doing has already made my time at FH an impactful experience.” – Chichi Osunkwo, Alfred Fleishman Diversity Fellow, San Francisco, California 
  • “Fostering change and elevating voices within underserved and underrepresented populations is essential to addressing systemic racism, and AAPF is doing just that.” – Matt Shinabarger, senior vice president, Detroit, Michigan
  • “Racism is a fight we can’t afford to lose. I’m so proud to be a part of a project that addresses the urgent and important issues of today.” – Malia Eley, account supervisor, San Francisco, California
  • “As storytellers, the most impactful stories we can tell are the ones from overlooked or silenced voices. AAPF gives us this opportunity.” – Jennifer Tam, account executive, San Francisco, California
  • “I read Dr. Crenshaw’s work on intersectionality in college, and now I get the chance to actively support her through AAPF. It feels so good to combine my skills in PR with my passion for diversity, equity and inclusion.” – Elizabeth Comtois, account executive, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • “I’m passionate about this work and the opportunity to participate because if not now, when? I can be a voice for someone else who can benefit and act as the advocate I always needed.” –Gaetan Joseph, senior administrative assistant, Atlanta, Georgia
  • “Systemic racism has always existed in the history of the U.S., and what AAPF does directly targets the problem. I’m passionate about uplifting underrepresented groups, so I’m super excited to be part of the team that’ll make fundamental change happen.” – Jerry Yan, Alfred Fleishman Diversity Fellow, San Francisco, California 

Photo Credit: The African American Policy Forum (AAPF)

Malia Eley is a member of our Corporate Reputation team in our San Francisco office.