The orbit of advertising and creative planets never ends. Industry junkets, awards, get-togethers — all part of the game. A quick hello, maybe a drink or dinner. Not even getting to the surface to scratch it.
Every so often, though, the solar system aligns for good — and four African American creative leaders are aligning in a very big way.
Keith Cartwright, ECD at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, Geoff Edwards, creative executive at Creative Artists Agency, Jayanta Jenkins, global creative director of advertising at Apple/Beats by Dre and Jimmy Smith, chairman, CEO and CCO of Amusement Park are a shining light and example — as they have come together to announce Saturday Morning, an initiative created to build awareness, promote change and shift the overall perception that black lives are in some way not as important as others.
It all started with a text from Cartwright to the other three on a Friday. The next day, the path to change, and Saturday Morning, began.
“Saturday Morning is a coalition we are building across creative industries to bring about societal change,” said Cartwright, who first brought the group together. “Our objectives are as diverse as raising money for a foundation, helping pass legislation, bringing awareness to a cause or creating a peace-based technology in service of ending the cycle of violence and fear cased by racial bias and injustice.”
The mission begins with a yet-to-be-disclosed project to be announced in early fall — but what matters now is the reason Saturday Morning exists in the first place — and is best summed up in a letter posted on the Saturday Morning Facebook page:
This letter starts with the highest level of optimism, that powerful voices are gearing up right now to take a stand.
I don’t know if there’s ever been an opportunity as great as this to make change.
My Friday morning began with a text message. I reached out to three of my friends:
The text read, “We need to come together. And say something.”
We’ve all known each other for some time, and not once have we sat down together to have a conversation. Friday’s text led to a meeting Saturday Morning in Los Angeles, one of the best meetings of my career.
We talked about our families, our careers, and how shocking it was that we’d never done this before—but how important it was that we were doing it now. Geoff, Jimmy, Jayanta and I talked about our own experiences growing up as black males, and the racism we’ve encountered in our lives. None of us grew up in the same city or town, but we all shared similar stories and have had to approach our lives and careers with a dual consciousness. To this day we all still share the unique fear that comes with flashing lights in a rearview mirror, and the bias placed against us for the color of our skin.
The brutal deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the five police officers murdered in Dallas, Texas, brought us together this Saturday Morning to talk about how we can help change the perception that black lives are not as important as others. The dehumanizing effects of this belief are causing African-Americans across this country to be brutalized, incarcerated and even killed, at an alarming rate.
How do we as an industry change that, and how do we enlist others around our industry to join the discussion?
It has been said that Sunday morning is the most segregated day in America. So, let’s get in front of that together. If Sunday morning is seen as a day of division, then Saturday Morning should represent both a day of change and a way to dispel the myth that there is no hope for tomorrow. Saturday Morning will be an organization that helps build awareness, promote change and shift the overall perception that black lives are in some way not as important as others.
Our vision is that Saturday Morning will be a coalition across industries. This letter is the first call to action. We’ll now begin the process of inviting thought leaders across technology, music, entertainment, advertising, media, art and design, and anyone willing to participate in this conversation. Our action will be brought to life through a quarterly PEACE BRIEF, which will outline our objectives. Those objectives could be anything from raising money for a foundation or helping pass legislation, to bringing awareness to a cause or creating peace-based technology—all in an effort to make every Saturday Morning better than the last. We are currently active, working to bring this vision to life. There will be more to come in following weeks.
Please join us at saturdaymorning.co as we start to seed our beginning efforts. If you want to be part of this movement and take a role as we put ideas into action and identify opportunities where we can have impact, please email us at: email@example.com.
Again, this letter ends with the highest level of optimism, that powerful voices are gearing up right now to take a stance. There’s never been an opportunity as great as this to make change.
Keith Cartwright, Geoff Edwards, Jimmy Smith, Jayanta Jenkins
What will make Saturday Morning a success is bringing all people together to address racism and encourage empathy.
It starts by reaching out at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This isn’t just a story. This can change the world.
And you can count me in.