For-profit

Blackbird

Website:

teamblackbird.org/

Location:

Brooklyn, NY

Co-founders:

Mervyn Marcano and Thenjiwe McHarris

Formation:

2014

Type:

Public Relations

Blackbird is a progressive public relations organization that works primarily with aligned organizations and individuals to develop and promote publicity campaigns and materials. Movements that Blackbird has bolstered through its work include Black Lives Matter and Me Too (sometimes styled as #MeToo).

Background

In 2014, as the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement — a coalition of individuals and groups united by an ostensible interest in reforming police conduct regarding the use of force against African-American suspects and civilians — emerged, Blackbird’s founders Mervyn Marcano and Thenjiwe McHarris, both progressive activists focused on race issues, worked with associated groups within the movement to promote and develop their messages. Since then, Marcano and McHarris developed Blackbird to function as a “rapid-response operation” for left-progressive organizers working with the group. In general, Blackbird opposes laws expanding the detention of illegal immigrants, opposes the flying of the confederate flag, and fights laws intended to minimize voter fraud. Additionally, Blackbird is working to shape the environmentalist movement to emphasize the alleged impacts of environmental change on particular groups. [1][2]

In addition to helping shape and promote BLM, Blackbird touts on its website that it assisted progressive activist Tarana Burke develop what was initially a viral tweet into the “Me Too” (also styled #MeToo) movement, which ostensibly opposes sexual abuse and harassment and often involves publicizing allegations against prominent men on social media. [3]

Primarily, Blackbird assists in the production of documentaries, short films, advertisements, and social media content, some of which has appeared on channels including BET, HBO, MTV, VH1, and Lifetime and left-of-center journalistic platforms, including NowThis, Mic.com, New York Magazine, and Refinery29. [4] Blackbird has offices in Brooklyn, New York; Los Angeles, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Columbus, Ohio. [5]

Hashtags

Social media campaigns with prominent hashtags that Blackbird features on its website as examples of its work include #M4B, referring to the Movement for Black Lives, and #BLACKSPRING, referring to the 2015 Baltimore protests that followed the death of Freddie Gray. [6]

People

Mervyn Marcano

Prior to cofounding Blackbird, Mervyn Marcano worked for left-progressive organizations including ColorOfChange, an online organizing group; MediaJustice, a nonprofit focused on race and media issues; and The League of Young Voters (also known as The League of Independent Voters), a political organizing group notable chiefly for opposing the 2004 reelection of President George W. Bush. [7][8]

Thenjiwe McHarris

Prior to cofounding Blackbird, Thenjiwe McHarris worked with the US Human Rights Network, a national network focused on human rights issues, and Amnesty International, a non-governmental organization also focused on human rights issues. [9]

Maori Holmes

Maori Holmes is the founder of the BlackStar Film Festival and is a member of the board of American Documentary, the parent organization of the PBS series POV. Prior to Blackbird, Holmes worked with Array Alliance, a film collective, The Leeway Foundation, a left-progressive art and women-focused grantmaking organization, and The Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania. [10][11]

References

  1. “Our Work.” Blackbird. Accessed January 3, 2021. https://www.teamblackbird.org/our-work. ^
  2. “Our Team.” Blackbird. Accessed January 3, 2021. https://www.teamblackbird.org/our-team. ^
  3. “Our Work.” Blackbird. Accessed January 3, 2021. https://www.teamblackbird.org/our-work. ^
  4. “Our Work.” Blackbird. Accessed January 3, 2021. https://www.teamblackbird.org/our-work. ^
  5. “Contact Us.” Blackbird. Accessed January 3, 2021. https://www.teamblackbird.org/contact-us. ^
  6. “Our Work.” Blackbird. Accessed January 3, 2021. https://www.teamblackbird.org/our-work. ^
  7. “Mervyn Marcono.” NetrootsNation. Accessed January 3, 2021. https://www.netrootsnation.org/profile/mervyn-marcano/. ^
  8. “Our Team.” Blackbird. Accessed January 3, 2021. https://www.teamblackbird.org/our-team. ^
  9. “Our Team.” Blackbird. Accessed January 3, 2021. https://www.teamblackbird.org/our-team. ^
  10. “Our Team.” Blackbird. Accessed January 3, 2021. https://www.teamblackbird.org/our-team. ^
  11. “Maori Karmael Holmes.” University of Pennsylvania: Annenberg School of Communication. Accessed January 3, 2021. https://www.asc.upenn.edu/people/faculty/maori-holmes. ^
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Blackbird


Brooklyn, NY