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“When things change inside you, things change around you.”

As February comes to an end, so does Black History Month. This doesn’t mean that the celebration of Black lives and the education about the indifferences in our society ends.

When I think about the importance of Black History Month, I realized that besides being a reason to celebrate the leaders and contributions from the black community, it is also a time for reflection. It presents an opportunity to understand its origin, while also acknowledging progress that has been made with respect to civil rights and the necessary progress that lies ahead.

Black History Month was developed by the esteemed historian Carter G. Woodson and Rev. Jesse E. Moorland in 1926. The 2nd week in February was selected to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14), and in 1976, February was officially designated as “Black History Month” in the United States.

While it’s an amazing time to be alive and see the efforts being made by so many to be more inclusive—It’s extremely frustrating to see the widespread inconsistencies in our execution on this as a society. A harsh example of this is the 2-3 months most elementary schools will spend on the Civil War, which spanned only 4 years—vs 2-3 days covering 400 years of slavery. Clearly there’s work to be done.

Black History Month is unique because it’s not just an opportunity to celebrate, but to LEARN. For many it’s a time to recognize something they already know and have lived with as part of their family heritage for many generations. But for others, it’s an opportunity to learn why it’s important to acknowledge the incredible accomplishments and sacrifices that black people have made throughout our nation’s history, and the world.

Since its establishment, each President of the United States has endorsed a specific theme for the designated month. Past themes have included “The Crisis in Black Education”, “African American In times of War”, “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity” and more. The theme for 2022 is “Black Health and Wellness”, which is still very prominent in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. This theme aims to bring awareness to racial disparities in health care and explore and celebrate Black scholars, medical practitioners, and other activities, rituals and initiatives that members of the Black communities use in health and to be well. Each year, the new theme presents an opportunity to explore a different element of Black History Month and use that as a starting point for education and discussion.

For real change to take place, this is something we must do together—as colleagues, friends, families, leaders, and human beings. I have challenged myself to learn and discover ways that I can make a difference, and one thing that really hits home for me is the amazing entrepreneurship in black owned businesses. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, from 2002 – 2017, the number of Black-owned businesses with employees increased 31.2%. While this increase is something incredible, there are several challenges that Black business owners continue to face and many of those challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between February 2020 and April 2020, the number of active Black-owned businesses fell 41%. We are seeing that there is potential for a decrease in Black Entrepreneurship. So, what can we do to help this? Research. Find the Black-owned businesses in your community. Support them and help spread the word.

There are many ways to educate ourselves, and sometimes you might not know where to start. So, I ask you- What does Black History Month mean to YOU? If you’re not quite sure how to answer that, then I challenge you to dig a little deeper and take that next step toward learning about how this important subject touches your life (and I guarantee you, it DOES), with the hope that one day ALL history will be equally recognized and honored for its value as a whole./p>

b fearless and never stop educating yourself.



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