Designing for Social Justice
In 2006, we founded Jackson Fish Market as a haven for creative and talented people to help companies design beautiful software, experiences, and organizations. Jenny and I have been incredibly lucky that we live in a society where doors were opened for us, connections were made, and frankly our path has been relatively blessed every step of the way. But not everyone in our country is that lucky. Over the last few years a glaring spotlight has shone brightly on the systemic racism in our country, and the real experience of a significant number of African-Americans. It’s revealed that our country is not really one country, but many depending on the color of your skin (and your gender, and your sexual orientation, and a host of other things that make us each unique). For the longest time Jenny and I have been searching for a way to take the incredible opportunities afforded to us by our clients, our partners, our employees, and our friends, and use our expertise to pay that forward. We’re thrilled to tell you that we’ve finally found a perfect opportunity to do just that.
In 2007, a University of Washington Professor named Quintard Taylor founded a homegrown website called BlackPast. The goal was to disseminate factual, curated information on the history of African-Americans. But as happens when there’s a need, the site quickly grew. And grew. And grew. Today, BlackPast.org is the single largest dedicated source of African-American history on the internet. But it’s important to understand, that it’s not just a history website. If we’re going to achieve a country where different segments of society don’t have different opportunities, we need to look recognize that African-American history is American history. The black experience in America affects us all. And understanding that experience, the good and the bad, is essential to stop looking at our neighbors as “the other” and start looking at them as truly fellow Americans.
Incredibly, BlackPast’s rocketing success, meant that the organization desperately needed help in exactly the areas where Jackson Fish Market excels — branding, visual identity, marketing communications, user experience design, and even organizational design. BlackPast is effectively a tech non-profit as its main vector for achieving its purpose is the internet. And Jackson Fish Market is really a digital transformation agency, helping companies (and non-profits) go from their traditional roots to becoming state-of-the-art technology companies, with modern brands and user experiences to touch their customers with. This is the work we have been doing for BlackPast. It’s the largest gift BlackPast has ever received.
Right now, BlackPast is revealing the first two fruits of our collaboration — the hiring of the incredibly talented and capable Chieko Phillips as BlackPast’s new Executive Director, and a brand new identity for BlackPast that speaks to its mission, its heritage, and its forward thinking. Down the road you will see a lot more from BlackPast including a new website towards the end of the year/beginning of next year, and even more. BlackPast begins a new chapter, and Jenny and I and the entire Jackson Fish Market team couldn’t be more pleased to stand by their side and help make it happen.
Read more about our work on BlackPast designing for social justice.