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The Study Hall

Why I Celebrate Black History Month

A call went out last month from our Diversity Inclusion and Belonging group asking if any of us had the bandwidth to write a blog for Black History Month. I hesitated at first because I didn't want to be labeled the Black person who writes about black people. I got over myself real quick and am so grateful for the chance to share my knowledge and history of African American History which is AMERICAN History. The history of being black in America is one of tremendous resilience and grace, resistance and protest.

The true history of Blacks in America was often left out of our primary studies. When taught, the stories depicted our struggles versus our triumphs and created a false imagery that black people were less capable of great achievements. This couldn't be further from the truth and Black History Month gives us a platform to mitigate those troublesome images with positive images of our achievements and racial progress. I am a firm believer in the mantra “You have to see it to be it.” Otherwise, how does a child know they can be a doctor or teacher unless they see people who look like them?

To mark Black History Month, I have put together a short calendar showcase of examples of infamous icons of black excellence. Feel free to use these tidbits as conversation starters:

  • Feb 1: 1865, John S. Rock, first black attorney to practice before the US Supreme Court
  • Feb 3: 1947 Percival Pratts is the first black news correspondent admitted to the House and Senate Press Galleries
  • Feb 11: Nelson Mandela is released after 27 years as a political prisoner Feb 16: Bessie Smith sells 780,000 copies of her first recording “Downhearted Blues
  • Feb 17: 1938 Mary Fraces Berry was born in Nashville . She will become the first woman to serve as Chancellor of a major research university, University of Colorado
  • Feb 18: 1688 Quakers of Germantown PA sign first formal antislavery statement in American History
  • Feb 20: 1929 Wallace Thurman's play Harlem begins successful run on Broadway
  • Feb 27: 1872 Charlotte Ray becomes first female African American lawyer

Cheers to Black History Month
Celebrate, Learn, Share

Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin