Tag: Black History Month

Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the supply chain diversity space both nationally, regionally, and locally as well as get the latest NYNJMSDC news.

MBE Spotlight: Irene Smalls

Growing up in Harlem, New York in the 1950s, Irene Smalls experienced and lived through segregation, integration, racial violence, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, and present-day racial conservatism. These experiences affected her at a young age and continue to influence the career she has made for herself. 

Irene Smalls is a Black Historian, Author, and Activist. She received an MBA in Behavioral Science and a Black Studies degree from Cornell University. She became the founder of the Cornell Black Alumni Association and Wari House—the first official Black women’s residence on an Ivy League college campus. She led the first Black student protests at Cornell University, protesting the mistreatment of Black women in Cornell’s Balch Dormitory. 

After college, Smalls found her passion as an advocate for equality in education and healthcare for children from communities of color. Through her research, she found that populations with low literacy rates also tended to have poorer health outcomes. 

As an award-winning children’s author and a health enthusiast, Smalls recognized the clear connections between health and academic achievement. To highlight the intersectionality between literacy, physical movement, and overall health, she created Literacise and developed the Literacise Read-y Fashions exhibits. Through these programs, she works to create a brain-body-book connection to help children succeed. 

As part of her continued scientific research, Smalls realized that learning and health are also vitally connected to sleep. It has been her lifelong mission to address these issues through her books and speaking engagements. Recently, Smalls launched her own bedtime book imprint, with the first title in the series being, “An Affirmation Nite Baby Nite.” 

Irene Smalls has published more than 17 books for children. In 2022, she became the winner of the ‘Mom’s Choice Award for Excellence in Children’s Publishing’. She has also written four Black History picture books for children from stories sourced from original enslaved narratives as a part of her 12 Months of Black History picture book series. 

The exceptional knowledge and work that Irene Smalls has made has earned her features in PBS’ Stories from the State, Newsweek, People Magazine, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Essence, Ebony, Jet, The Chicago Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, Black Enterprise, and Boston Magazine. Smalls has been invited twice to share her stories at the White House and has developed literacy-oriented corporate promotions with New England Telephone, The Gillette Company, and State Street Bank.

Watch Irene Smalls speak on PBS

For more information on Irene Smalls and Literacise, please visit: literacise.com

Reflecting & Celebrating Black Excellence 

At The Council, we are excited to welcome the month of February as it marks a month-long celebration of Black History. 

This annual observance is a time to reflect on the rich history, achievements, and contributions that African Americans have made to our nation throughout the years. This year, we want to take this opportunity to not only honor the past, but to also highlight the present and future leaders who continue to shape our diverse and dynamic society. 

Black excellence has long been rooted in American history, but it often does not receive the recognition it deserves. Every year important historical figures like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. are recognized for their contributions, but many other heroes go without their well-deserved recognition. 

Bayard Rustin helped to organize and strategize the March on Washington in August of 1963 where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his well-known, “I Have a Dream” speech. As a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Rustin dedicated much of his life to fighting humanitarian causes against injustice of all kinds.

Claudette Colvin was arrested 9 months before Rosa Parks at the age of 15. When she remained seated near the middle of the bus and refused to give up her seat to a white woman, she became the first woman to be detained for this type of resistance.  

Robert Sengstacke Abbott founded the Chicago Defender which played an integral part in encouraging African Americans to migrate from the South for better economic opportunities, known as the Great Migration. His paper also provided a platform for black voices, championed civil rights causes, and influenced many other Black publications to start up. 

Black History Month is not only about looking back; it’s also about recognizing the present achievements of the Black community. The Council is committed to highlighting the excellence, innovation, and success stories of African-American entrepreneurs, business leaders, and professionals who contribute significantly to the economic growth of our region.

Through our Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) programs and initiatives, we aim to empower black-owned businesses, providing them with opportunities, resources, and support to thrive in today’s competitive market. By fostering diversity and inclusion, we can positively contribute to a more resilient business ecosystem.

If you are looking to make new connections with certified African-American owned businesses, we’ve collated a  full list of businesses certified with the Council below. 

Black History Month is a time for reflection, celebration, and inspiration. It is an opportunity for individuals and organizations to come together in unity, recognizing the invaluable contributions of the black community. Together, we can build a future where every individual, regardless of the color of their skin, has the opportunity to thrive and succeed.


Terrence Clark

2023 Black History Month

The beginning of February marks the start of Black History Month. What started out as a week-long event has expanded into a full month of celebrating the achievements of African Americans whose accomplishments have gone unnoticed for too long in history.

In recognition of African Americans’ fight toward ending historic and ongoing oppression, this year’s theme for Black History Month is “Black Resistance.” For hundreds of years, minorities in this country have had to fight for the same rights as other Americans, breaking through barriers to have their work recognized in the same light as their colleagues. Despite the progress we’ve made as a country, African Americans and other minorities are still met with barriers and setbacks that make it harder to achieve the American dream. 

As we reflect on what the Council can do to help, we continue to promote the importance of creating a diverse supply chain. We recently named the winners of the 2022 Corporate Awards, an initiative that highlights standout members in their field for their commitment to creating a diverse supply chain. Employing people from all walks of life creates new ideas and different perspectives that can serve a business well; it also shows prospective employees and consumers that your organization values and celebrates differences among its people. 

We continue to see businesses grow and prosper as a result of the many events and programs we hold in our ongoing effort to increase the number of minority-owned businesses. We also proudly offer MBE and Corporate Spotlight recognition on our website to showcase different minority businesses and promote them to our members on both sides of the supply chain. And of course, we offer a variety of networking events to help businesses build connections, including Networking for Scholarships, the Partnership Awards Reception, Biz Connect, our Matchmaker events, and many others. We look forward to continuing these events and promoting businesses to find success in their fields. 

While we are continually motivated by the progress that we have seen in ending inequality, there is always room to grow and work to be done. This work can not be done by one person or organization alone — we must all continue to chip away at these inequalities to finally have equal opportunities for all in this country, no matter the color of their skin. 

We want to say thank you to all of our MBEs and Corporate Sponsors for your continued support of The Council and our initiatives. We are excited for what the future will bring and will continue to reflect on progress, assess our challenges, and make strides toward a powerful minority business community that benefits every member of our diverse nation.


Terrence Clark