NY Times, MassMutual Shine a Light on Black-Owned Businesses

A century after Tulsa, a vibrant digital storefront

Illustrations by Sabrena Khadija

On May 31, 1921, the Tulsa Race Massacre began. A white mob burned down more than 1,000 businesses, killing hundreds, in Greenville, an upscale, diverse district nicknamed "Black Wall Street."

To commemorate the centenary of that tragic event and elevate 100 present-day Black-owned businesses, MassMutual and The New York Times joined forces for a digital-storefront initiative, with Sierra Leonean-American artist Sabrena Khadija providing bold illustrations.

The campaign features shoppable NYTimes.com ad units spotlighting 100 merchants, shops and services across sectors such as fashion, food, design, creative services, technology and construction.

NYT content studio T Brand led development, working with MassMutual agency Giant Spoon. The collaboration supports the Times' "Black History, Continued" editorial series exploring pivotal moments and transformative figures in the battle for racial justice and equality.

The broader goal "is to underscore the fact that Black history is our history, America's history, and inextricably linked to events past, present and future. It shouldn't be consigned to one month of reflection and celebration," says T Brand editorial director Esther Haynes. Supporting Black-owned businesses helps strengthen communities and expand commerce for everyone, she says.

Khadija's images are a perfect fit, adding warmth and vibrancy to the campaign's landing page.

"We wanted an illustrator who could visualize moments in the life of small businesses with a sense of joy and dynamism," T Brand graphic designer Patricia Sanchez Navarro tells Muse. The deeply saturated palette and sleek, storybook style help showcase "the versatility of trades while uplifting the people behind them," she says.

Recent like-minded efforts include Vans' push to aid minority-owned record shops, powerful films from Square and Vimeo/Mailchimp, and Facebook's focus on niche SMBs narrated by Grace Jones.


Guy Griggs, Head of Industry, Finance, The New York Times
Jessica Andrade, Client Lead, Finance, The New York Times
Matthew Renzulli, Associate Director, Strategy, T Brand, The New York Times
Dorian Walker, Associate Director, Program Management, T Brand, The New York Times
Haywood Watkins III, Creative Director, T Brand, The New York Times
Jennica Bocchino, Art Director, T Brand, The New York Times
Patricia Sanchez Navarro, Graphic Designer, T Brand, The New York Times
Lubomir Madolev, Senior Content Producer, T Brand, The New York Times
Esther Haynes, Editorial Director, T Brand, The New York Times
S. Tia Brown, Senior Editor, T Brand, The New York Times
Istiac Ahmed, Manager, Ad Solutions, The New York Times
Jon Glauber, Advanced Campaign Manager, The New York Times
Jaclyn Kincade, Sales Planner, The New York Times
Nicole DeWitt, Senior Program Manager, T Brand, The New York Times
Nicole Marie Rincon, Design Director, T Brand, The New York Times
Scott Sanders, Graphic Designer, T Brand, The New York Times
Ben James, Head of Creative, T Brand Studio, The New York Times
Ara Kurnit, Managing Director of Strategy, T Brand, The New York Times
Caroline Keeshan, Audience Analyst, The New York Times
Deanna Martin, Researcher
Tracy E. Hopkins, Researcher

Jennifer Halloran, Head of Marketing & Brand, MassMutual
Kristin Lane, Head of Customer Activation & Engagement, MassMutual
Christa Perry, Brand Marketing Director, MassMutual

Mitchell Kapler, Account Director, Giant Spoon
Anthony Pedalino, VP of Media, Giant Spoon
Julia Weiss, Director of Media, Giant Spoon
Tori Johnson, Media Strategist, Giant Spoon
Jillian Beitter, Junior Media Strategist, Giant Spoon

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