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'400 Years at Half-Staff' Shines Light on the Discrepancies in the History of Freedom for Black People

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Goodby Silverstein & Partners creates Independence Day campaign for Courageous Conversation Global Foundation

'400 Years at Half-Staff' Shines Light on the Discrepancies in the History of Freedom for Black People

This Independence Day, Courageous Conversation Global Foundation (CCGF) is shining a light on the discrepancies in the history of freedom for Black people with their new campaign, '400 Years at Half-Staff'. 

The campaign leans into this past year of racial reckoning in America, acknowledging that while many have only now realized the systemic bias that this country was built upon and continuously perpetuates, the reality is that Black America is all too aware of the biases suffered in this country for over 400 years. 

Created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners, '400 Years at Half-Staff' lowers the culturally iconic African American flag to half-staff to illustrate the point that Black Americans have been suffering since slavery. And even though enslaved people finally discovered they had been freed on June 19, 1866, Black America still suffers. The project has been documented in this film.

Embroidered with a vigorous declaration of Black truth, the flag can be seen through a powerful film and an Instagram lens that allows users to interact with the flag in real life using image-recognition technology. Download the Instagram lens here

“When you see a flag at half-staff, you wonder what’s happened—a mass shooting, a prominent statesman or stateswoman passing away, etc. This specific flag at half-staff is representative of the constant suffering Black America has endured for far too long,” said Anthony O’Neill, GS&P creative director.

Underlined by a quote from Frederick Douglass from 1852: “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn,” the work exposes the systemic injustices Black Americans have been experiencing since 1619, injustices that have heightened this past year with the unjust deaths of Black Americans such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

“Even to this day, on the Fourth of July, Black Americans do not experience the freedom and liberation that were stitched into the fabrics [of the makings] of our nation,” said Glenn Singleton, founder and president of CCGF.

This campaign is intended to spark a conversation on a day during which we all reflect on what it means to be American and the meaning of “liberty and justice for all.” But beyond that, we hope to spark change. The film asks people to “Start a conversation at” where they can learn how to contact their local senators and urge them to pass the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Bill.

“We recognise that at times revisiting the past can be painful, but we also think it’s extremely important to revisit these moments to better understand the present,” said Rony Castor, GS&P creative director. 

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Credit List

Client: Courageous Conversation Global Foundation

Spot Name: 400 Years Flag Half-Staff

Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Client: Courageous Conversation Global Foundation

Board Chair, Courageous Conversation Global Foundation (CCGF): Glenn E. Singleton

Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Gabriel Joshua Gima, Director of Communications, Courageous Conversation

Executive Director, Courageous Conversation Global Foundation (CCGF): Andrea Johnson


Co-Chairmen: Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein

Chief Creative Officer: Margaret Johnson

Creative Director: Anthony O’Neill & Rony Castor

Art Director: Shantice Edwards

Copywriter: Alex Petosa

Account Services

President: Derek Robson

Assistant Account Manager: Rachel Diaz

Public Relations

Director of Communications: Meredith Vellines

Brand and Communication Strategy

Partner, Head of Brand Strategy: Bonnie Wan

Partner, Head of Communication Strategy: Christine Chen

Brand Strategist: Darien Ahn

Communications Strategist: Matt McNamara


Co-Director of Production: Margaret Brett-Kearns

Co-Director of Production: Leila Gage

Director of Film Content & Partnerships: JP Patterson

Line Producer: Andrew Devansky

Director of Photography: Mark Sandhoff

Photographer: Emilio Diaz

Camera Operator: Andrew Butte

Senior Print Producer/Art Buyer: Noah Dasho

GS&P Labs

Director of Creative Technology: Nathan Shipley

Executive Producer: Tena Goy

Creative Technologist: Shan Jin

Design Technologist: Joshua Blair

Creative Technologist: August Bjornberg

Post Production

Editorial and Audio: Elevel

Director of Elevel Post Production: Michael Damiani

Senior Editor: David Sullivan

Post Producer: Allison Lambert

Audio Engineer: Nic Dematteo

Color: Joseph Bicknell at Company 3

Business Affairs

Director of Business Affairs: Judy Ybarra


Design Director: Ryan Self

Genres: Storytelling

Categories: Charity, Corporate, Social and PSAs

Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Thu, 01 Jul 2021 08:47:00 GMT