The week that saw the brutal deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the five police officers in Dallas, Texas, has inspired four prominent African-American creative executives to join forces to tackle the subject of racial inequality and "promote peace" with a new organization called Saturday Morning.
Keith Cartwright, executive creative director at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners; Geoff Edwards, creative executive at Creative Artists Agency; Jayanta Jenkins, global director of advertising at Apple/Beats by Dre; and Jimmy Smith CEO and CCO of Amusement Park have pledged to work together to "build awareness, promote change and shift the overall perception that black lives are not as important as others."
The partners will continue in their current jobs while building Saturday Morning and are working on an undisclosed project that will be announced in early fall. "Sunday morning is the most divided day in America. As a result, we’ve chosen Saturday Morning as a coalition for peace," reads the mission outlined on the group’s website www.saturdaymorning.co.
"Saturday Morning is a coalition we are building across creative industries to bring about societal change," said Cartwright, in a statement. "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."
A letter signed by the four partners posted to the group’s Facebook page explains the origins of the group. It began with a text on a Friday from Cartwright to the three executives. "We need to come together. And say something."
The text led to a meeting on a July Saturday morning in Los Angeles, explains the letter. The four partners had known each other for years, but had never gotten together as a group to have a conversation. They talked about their families and shared their experiences "as black males, and the racism we’ve encountered in our lives." While they all grew up in different towns, explains the letter, "we all still share the unique fear that comes with flashing lights in the 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 letter continues. "The dehumanizing effects are causing African Americans across this country to be brutalized, incarcerated and even killed at an alarming rate. How do we as industry change that, and how do we enlist others around our industry to join the discussion?"
The idea is that the coalition will work across industries to create change. "This letter is the first call of action." The group is inviting industry thought leaders across technology, music, entertainment, advertising, media, art and design (and anyone who wants to help) to join in the discussion.
The group plans to meet four times a year to set quarterly goals and send out a "Peace Brief" to coalition members twice a year. The objectives will vary, but each will be "an effort to make every Saturday Morning better than the last," they said.