Feature Stories

Astellas and its Employees Celebrate Black History Month

Feb 17, 2017

"I had no idea history was being made. I was just tired of giving up.” – Rosa Parks

When Carter G. Woodson first created what later became Black History Month, he emphasized that Americans should not celebrate “Negro” history, but the “Negro in history.” This month, Astellas and its employees recognize Black History Month as an important time to commemorate the extraordinary impact the black community has had on society.

Together with the African-American Employee Resource Group (AAERG), Astellas worked to bring employees a number of activities that highlight black Americans’ contributions to history and culture. Throughout February, we stationed eye-catching banners and signage all across our Americas headquarters in Northbrook, Ill., featuring key black leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Barack Obama and Thurgood Marshall.   

“It’s important that we recognize and honor the legacies of the people who have paved the way for progress and equality across the United States,” said Jeff Bloss, senior vice president, Medical Affairs, and executive sponsor of the AAERG. “People like Dr. King and Rosa Parks represent the courage and decency that we all strive to embody and emulate as citizens and as employees of Astellas.”

Additionally, in partnership with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the AAERG hosted an exhibit called “A Place for All People” to educate our employees about African-Americans’  artistic achievement, cultural expression, philosophy, sports and politics prevalent throughout American history.

Our employees were deeply moved and inspired by this experience.

“It is nearly impossible not to be impacted by the inspiring stories and powerful imagery as you walk through this exhibit,” said AAERG co-event chair Candace Johnson, associate director, product communications, Corporate Affairs. “I think all of our employees who participated feel a deeper connection to and greater understanding of the African-American experience.” 

With food being such a significant aspect of black culture, we also welcomed renowned chef Aaron Andrews and local pastry-master Marcus Freeman to the Astellas Skygazer café to prepare authentic soul food dishes and bakery items for our employees to enjoy. Andrews is a chef at the new Smithsonian museum’s café, while Freeman owns Signature Sweets Factory in Chicago’s south suburbs.

The AAERG’s focus is to cultivate a diverse and inclusive environment to educate and empower Astellas' talent to drive innovative solutions that embrace multicultural opportunities and mirror the needs of the global community.

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