Black Influencers, Organizations, & Activists to Follow on Instagram

Black History Month’s origins can be traced back to the late 19th century, when Carter G. Woodson, historian and scholar, launched Black History week in 1926. Today, Carter Woodson’s dedication to celebrating the historic contributions of Black people led to the establishment of Black History Month, which we now celebrate every February. 

Honoring Black history, culture, and achievements is important year-round. It’s equally important that we understand this history to create a more inclusive, equitable, and progressive future.

This month, we’re highlighting Instagram accounts run by Black business owners, activists, and grassroots and nonprofit organizations that are helping to build a stronger community in Rochester and around the world. Be sure to give them a follow to support their efforts this month and year-round. 



The official IG for the #BlackLivesMatter Global Network Foundation seeks to provide its viewers with resources, historical facts, and information regarding the movement as a whole. The BLM Global Network Foundation’s mission is to work inside and outside of the system to heal the past, re-imagine the present, and invest in the future of Black lives through policy change, investment in our communities, and a commitment to arts and culture. 


Michelle De Leon founded World Afro Day, a community organization determined to recognize and support Black individuals by celebrating Afro hair and identity. World Afro Day works with families, schools, and authorities to fight against discrimination and also hosts workplace events highlighting the importance of identity within the workplace. 


The Freedom BLOC is a nonprofit organization that seeks to build Black political power through education, engagement, and encouragement in the community. BLOC also aims to educate, empower, and activate Black citizens to recognize their own political power. 


Black Mamas Matter Alliance is a nonprofit organization that passionately advocates for Black mothers, by bringing awareness to their struggles, showcasing resources and trainings, and envisioning a world where Black mothers have rights, respect, and resources to thrive before, during, and after pregnancy. Black Mamas Matter Alliance also founded Black Maternal Health Week, as well as, the Black Maternal Health Conference. 


BlackPAC is an independent, Black-led political nonprofit organization that works to change existing social and political systems through political engagement. BlackPAC works with partners from across the country to harness the political power of Black Americans by motivating Black voters to go to the polls, elect political candidates who are willing to make those changes, and hold these politicians accountable for ending white supremacy. 


Marie Beecham is a DEI advocate, speaker, writer, and host of the Know Better Do Better podcast. Beecham’s podcast focuses on racial injustice, prejudice, and racial division but invites her audience not to shy away from feelings of shame and discomfort, saying that good results can happen when people are willing to learn and that change is possible.


Black Women for Wellness is a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles that “is committed to advancing the health and well-being of Black women & girls through education, empowerment, and advocacy.” The organization provides numerous programs to expand healthcare resources, including reproductive justice, sexual health education, policy work, and more.


Color of Change is uplifting Black communities around the United States by challenging economic, criminal, and media injustices by enforcing accountability and funding racial justice research. The organization’s work influences just and equitable decisions to give Black communities their power and voice.


Alexis Nikole Nelson is a forager and cook passionate about the environment. Nelson’s social media presence features food tutorials, foraging tips, lifestyle vlogs, and more in an informative, fun way. Her content is great for any forage-curious adventurers to learn more about foraging, nature, and food science.

Rochester Locals


Brittany White-Volks, the CEO co-founder of @blackownedinrochester and RSquared Marketing, alongside Bill Volks, COO and co-founder of BOiR and RSquared Marketing, created this website to help connect people with amazing Black Owned Businesses in the Rochester and Greater Rochester areas. With 170 current listings, the founders’ main goals are to not only celebrate, but help grow Black-owned businesses to become the generational wealth builders they can be. 


Rochester Black Young Professionals is a group of the Urban League of Rochester that works with young professionals ages 21- 40 in order to foster growth, empower their members, and improve the community as a whole. Rochester BYP holds frequent networking, community engagement, and for-fun events including, but not limited to, community cookouts and food drives.


Roc Black Pride makes space for all people, and especially Black youth, to never feel the need to hide who they are. Roc Black Pride does this by hosting events, elevating voices from the margins, and making space for intentional community.  


The Greater Rochester Association of Realtors Black Caucus strives to make history, as they already have, by being the first caucus to be established at GRAR. GRAR Black Caucus seeks to advance change for REALTORS® and homeowners, all while raising awareness of the historical and current realities of structural racism that have led to housing inequality. 


Founder, artistic director, and CEO of Avenue Black Box Theatre, Reenah Golden, created a bold, creative, and healing space which honors and celebrates marginalized voices here in Rochester. The theater is a Black-owned, fully accessible, queer space where social justice and art converge to create dynamic stage productions, installations, and live-art-making events. Reenah Golden founded the theater with a focus on honoring and uplifting BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ voices, art, and issues. 


Walter English, known on Instagram as @formerlovepoet, is a Rochester-based poet, author, and founder of the Brister English Project, a platform that connects Black families to their descendants of American chattel slavery. Having helped over 100 families access their lineage, the Brister English project continues to “conserve ancestry through research and restoration.”


Calvin Eaton is the founder and CEO of  540WMain, an online anti-racist education platform that engages with communities through classes, consulting, and digital content. Known already as a Rochester-based fundraiser, marketer, and entrepreneur, Eaton is also a gluten-free pastry chef who runs @theglutenfreechefblog on Instagram. He recently published his first cookbook, Just Desserts! 40 Step-by-Step Gluten-Free Dessert Recipes.

Rochester Black Community Focus Fund

By directly supporting Black families, the Rochester Black Community Focus Fund supports the community with housing, education, and economic needs. Through community impact and racial justice, Rochester BCFF is removing the disparities that prevent Black Rochesterians from employment, education, and economic opportunities. The organization recently partnered with the City of Rochester to pilot the Guaranteed Basic Income program in 2023.


Founded by Taylor T., Archivist Books is a black and queer-owned bookshop, now located at 772 Monroe Avenue in Rochester, NY. This shop is young but has already made positive contributions to the community and beyond, hosting events that empower, connect, and educate. Archivist Books will host its new brand opening on Saturday, March 2, 2024.

We stand in solidarity with the Black community and will continue to have hope for This Good World. Looking for additional resources to support Black joy and liberation this Black History Month? Check out these Rochester-based organizations

Know of anyone we should add to the list?

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Founded in 2012 by Lisa Kribs, TGW Studio is an LGBTQ+/non-binary/women-owned and -operated social impact marketing firm that partners with forward-thinking brands to tell their stories. We’re a full-service marketing firm proudly creating and communicating purposeful experiences for businesses and organizations across sectors and society.

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