Starbucks honours Black History Month


This October, during Black History Month, Starbucks is proud to celebrate the unique stories of our partners and what this month means to them.

Basil Fraser

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself, your career, role in the business and how long you have been a partner?

A. I am Basil, I live in London, married for 33-years, and have three grown-up children.

I have been proud to be a partner for other 12-years and currently work in Finance as Credit Controller. I am also a Coffee Master, a Mental Health First Aider, and the Chair of the Starbucks EMEA Black Partner Network. Outside of work, I am also a trustee for the Hogarth Charitable Trust, a children’s charity based in Chiswick.

Q. Basil, as the chair of the Black Partner Network, please can you tell us a little more about it.

A. The EMEA Black Partner Network was established in July, it follows to some extent the best practice and legacy of our Black Partner Network in the US which was established way back in 2007. 

The Black Partner Network aims are to encourage diversity, promote inclusion, and contribute to the success of our partners and our business. Giving partners the opportunity to act with courage, no longer be bystanders, and challenge the status quo to influence our culture through the lens of humanity.

The Black Partner Network is led by partners, for partners, and is open and available to all EMEA Support Centre Partners to join to share, learn, listen, contribute, and grow.

Q. What does Black History Month mean to you, and why is it important to celebrate the landmark?

A. Black History is a time when the African diaspora can take time out to appreciate, by celebrating the people who came before them, and what they had fought for, and the present pioneers.

It’s to recognise their contribution to humankind, that was hidden from the rest of the world by design and bring awareness to the those whom choses to be enlighten by these facts, that the enslaved was an interruption to African history.

And that this diaspora refers to the many communities of people of African descent dispersed throughout the world because of historic involuntary movements, this being the result of the Arab and Atlantic slave trade.

From a personal impact perspective, and from my own family history, it’s an opportunity for me to reflect on my Great, Great, Great-Uncle’s contribution, who died on in battlefield defending the British empire – mother country as it as was known then – 1914-1918.

Michelle Lisette Wilson

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself, your career, role in the business and how long you have been a partner?

A. My name is Michelle Lisette Wilson, I am mixed race, my mother is from Belize, Central America and my father is Scottish, born in Dunfermline. I have been a Store Manager in Dunfermline Kingsgate Centre for just over two-years now. I began my Starbucks career as a supervisor in 2015 and it is the best decision I have ever made. Having worked in retail from the age of 16 I have had the pleasure of working in many different workplace environments and I can safely say none have been as welcoming, enjoyable and as motivating as working for Starbucks. The team I joined, and currently work with are my second little family, who I value massively.  Past and present partners still socialise together and when old partners pass through from time to time it is like they have never been away. So far, I have had an amazing career and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

Q. What does Black History Month mean to you, and why is it important to celebrate the landmark?

A. Black History Month means so much as it’s an opportunity for people of colour to celebrate their culture and the accomplishments of Black people through the ages. During Black History Month articles and stories are shared through social media and on the news. Museums and Art Galleries use this month to celebrate and try to educate. The more we discuss these things the more we can affect change. My hope is that more people will begin to know how oppressed Black people were and know more about their history. That they will begin to understand what Black people have been through and continue to go through. NOW is the time for change.

Never have we had a generation where so much is accepted and normalised, publicised or advertised. People can literally do or be whatever they want, the choices and opportunities are endless. So why is it we still find ourselves fighting for basic human rights for certain cultural groups? It makes no sense to me!

As the great Anti-Racism Educator Dr Jane Elliot once said, “There’s only one race, the Human Race.

I live by that. Happy Black History Month. Respect and love always.

Rebecca Sotomi

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself, your career, role in the business and how long you have been a partner?

A. My name is Rebecca Sotomi, manager of the Drive Thru store in Belvedere, Kent. I started at Starbucks 10 years ago as a barista and have risen through the ranks to where I am today. My journey with Starbucks has been an incredible and enjoyable one. I have had the opportunity to make friends and meet people both customers and partners. I have really grown from a shy and unsure 20-something to the confident self-assured woman I am today. I owe that to Starbucks.

Being African-Nigerian growing up, I felt uncertain of my place in the world and was unsure of how I would be received. This made me quiet and observant being slow to think about what my responses should be. I did not enjoy the benefit of being able to discover myself out loud. I’ve been blessed to not have had to deal with any overtly discriminatory behavior, but I have been cautious in certain places where I find myself. 

Q. What does Black History Month mean to you, and why is it important to celebrate the landmark?

A. Black history month is so important because it highlights the plight of a race of people who were for centuries repressed and oppressed. It also highlights the strengths and capabilities of the amazing men and women who broke free from their oppression and achieved incredible feats. Lastly, Black history month is important because it is vital that we don’t forget.

As George Santayana so eloquently said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

Longji J Longhor

Q. Tell us a bit about yourself, your career, role in the business and how long you have been a partner?

A. My name is Longji Longhor, I am a two-and-a-half-year partner and currently work within the Accounts Payable Department. The heartbeat of the company being responsible for all outgoing payments to our suppliers.

Q. Longji, as the co-chair of the Black Partner Network, please can you tell us a little more about it.

A. I am one of two co-chairs of the Black Partner Network, created following the death of George Floyd.

Whilst the Black Partner Network was born out of an unwarted situation, I am very proud to say that we have made huge strides in a short space of time, showing we really can make the best of a bad situation. 

Q. What does Black History Month mean to you, and why is it important to celebrate the landmark?

A. Black History is so important for me as it is a time for us to reflect on the rich history and heritage we have.  A lot of our history was lost during the burning of the Library of Alexandria, pillaging of the Library of Timbuktu, and with the 400 years of slavery.

However, when I think of black history and people that has really helped shape our history, I think of people such as: Mohammed Ali, Rosa Parks, Kofi Annan, Oprah Winfrey, Frederick Douglass, Lewis Hamilton, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Bob Marley, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr, Wole Soyinka & Barack Obama to list a few.

When I think of black history, I think of the great achievements black people have done to contribute to the world we live in of recent years. I think of Barack Obama becoming the first Black president in the United States, I think of Lewis Hamilton equalling Michael Schumacher race wins and on course to becoming the most successful F1 driver in F1 history and a plethora of other achievements Black people have accomplished.

This is why Black History Month is important to me. I believe in due course the world will become a better place.

Real Eyes, Recognise Real Lies, Imagine If We Only Saw The World Through The Innocence Of A Child’s Eyes” Josiah.

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