Written by Timeka N. Tounsel, Penn State

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Prompted by George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020, major retail companies touted their commitment to racial justice. Some publicly supported the Black Lives Matter movement. The Vermont-based ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s went further and issued a list of actions aimed at “dismantl[ing] white supremacy in all its forms.

Popular clothing company Ralph Lauren launched its own initiatives in 2020 and most recently in March 2022 when it announced a partnership with two historically Black colleges to design a commemorative clothing line. The Polo Ralph Lauren Exclusively for Morehouse and Spelman Colleges Collection is the brainchild of two company staffers, Morehouse alum James Jeter and Spelman alum Dara Douglas.

In the words of company founder Ralph Lauren, the partnership with Morehouse and Spelman offers “a more complete and authentic portrait of American style and of the American dream.”