As Black history month comes to a close, we sit down with the founders of The Style Influencers Group, a company designed to link influencers with top brands, and also the brains behind the popular #WeAreBlackHistory campaign. If you haven’t seen the campaign’s digital footprint you’re truly missing out. The photo series recreates legendary images of Black history icons with today’s top digital influencers. Here, we connect with the founders to get a sense of what #WeAreBlackHistory truly means.
ESSENCE.com: What exactly was the message you guys wanted to communicate?
Christina Brown: We decided to push forward with this project because we were frustrated with what was going on in our community, particularly with all of the social justice issues. We wanted to shift the focus away from the negativity and focus more on the positivity.
ESSENCE: Why now as opposed to six months ago?
Alexis Felder: Selma was the turning point for me. I went to the premiere and was like, ‘Wow!’ The reason we’re able to do the things we’re able to do today is because of those women.
ESSENCE.com: How did you select the subjects?
Jessica Andrews: We looked to influencers who we felt resembled the icons in a very loose way, not only in terms of the way they look, but also in terms of their mission and what they were doing in the community. People like Feminista Jones came up with the “You OK Sis?” hashtag for street harassment and she’s really passionate about feminist issues. We also thought of Betty Shabazz who has a beautiful quote about feminism saying that women shouldn’t just delegate themselves to one role. It just felt like the perfect match.
ESSENCE.com: A lot of the girls really resembled their icon. Was that by chance?
Christina Brown: We definitely spent a lot of time developing this. We wanted to see who could emulate the icon enough that people would get it without seeing the image side-by-side. So, we did a lot of research and a lot of looking at multiple pictures to make sure we picked the right person.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us about the Style Influencers Group. What impact will that make on the community?
Jessica Andrews: Style Influencers Group is a network that we came up with to really connect influencers of color with brands. All three of us run style blogs and we felt that there was a lack of representation for bloggers and influencers of color. And there are brands that want to target multicultural markets and a lot of times they don’t know what influencers to go to. We want to get visibility for Black influencers who are overlooked because white bloggers are often favored.
ESSENCE.com: What would you like to tell the icons featured?
Jessica Andrews: We are really indebted to these women not only because they inspired us in our careers, but really because so many aspects of our lives wouldn’t be possible without Rosa Parks being brave and not giving up her seat on the bus, or without Madame CJ Walker creating a business for women of color with our hair. Now that’s a billion dollar industry. We wanted to bridge the gap between the generations to say, ‘we stand on your shoulders, we honor you, we celebrate you, we owe you so much, and we try everyday in our own careers to honor the sacrifices that you’ve made.’
ESSENCE.com: What’s next for “We Are Black History”?
Christina Brown: We’re definitely planning on doing this again next year. We want to make this an annual statement. We plan to keep the conversation going and keep Black history alive through social media. Stay tuned!