Black History Month
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Black History Month is celebrated during the entire month of February. This month is an annual celebration of the achievements that have been made by African Americans and recognizing their role in U.S history. There are other countries around the world that also celebrate Black History Month such as the United Kingdom and Canada. Black History Month has been celebrated every year during the month of February since 1976.
Although Black History Month has been celebrated since 1976, the story behind it began many years prior. In 1915, Carter G. Woodson and Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). This was an organization that dedicated its time to researching and promoting the achievements of Black Americans. This group was the first to recognize the second week in February as National Negro History week in 1926. This inspired schools and communities all over to organize local celebrations, lectures, or performances to honor Black History. During this time, many mayors from different cities began to issue yearly proclamations that would recognize this week of celebration during the month of February. It was not until 1976 that President Gerald Ford extended the week-long celebration to a month and officially designated February as Black History Month.
This month can be used to reflect on the years of Black history and heritage in the United States. It is important to educate ourselves on this topic and to acknowledge those who have made great strides to get us where we are today. Additionally, there are many virtual events or discussions that anyone could attend that occur throughout the month. Following the link here will take you to some online resources or discussions to attend during Black History Month. Learn more – https://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/
Additionally, EVOLVE offers a virtual camp, called UMOJA MN, that is designed to strengthen the bond of families who are parenting African American children and youth through foster care, kinship care, or adoption. This camp will be a virtual weekend retreat and education event that includes parent and youth workshops, round-table discussions about culture, identity, family, and unity, and so much more! This camp is being held from Friday, February 26 to Sunday, February 28.
Like mentioned, it is important to acknowledge and recognize those important figures that have made great strides in the United States. There are also many local Black individuals throughout the state of Minnesota that have made major strides for the Black community. Below are a few of the many local activists and role models that have made major achievements in the United States.
A Celebration of Local Activists and Role Models for Black History Month in Minnesota.
Nekima Levy Armstrong
Nekima is a lawyer and social justice activist in the state of Minnesota. She is the owner and founder of the Black Pearl, LLC which is a consulting firm that specializes in racial equality, problem-solving, community engagement, and public relations. She is the leader of the Racial Justice Network which is an organization that is committed to fighting for racial justice. Additionally, she has served as an adviser for the Black Lives Matter movement in Minneapolis. Nekima and the Racial Justice Network have coordinated much protesting, activism, and advocacy around the murder of George Floyd and other Black Americans that lost their lives at the hands of Police Officers.
Wilhelmina is a jurist and advocate in the state of Minnesota. She was the first African American woman to be appointed to the Minnesota State Supreme Court and in 2014 she became the first elected woman to serve on the Minnesota State Supreme Court. Then in 2016, Wilhelmina was appointed by President Obama to serve as a United States District Judge.
Rena is an educator, organizer, and leader in the state of Minnesota. Rena introduced the African American Family Preservation Act which has addressed the disparities in the Minnesota Child Welfare System that has impacted many Black families. She has also introduced and passed the Crown Act in Minnesota, which prohibits discrimination based on hair appearance and texture. Rena is the Co-Chair on the House Select Committee on Racial Justice. This committee was established to declare and address racism as a public health crisis and to ensure House legislative efforts are analyzed through an intersectional racial equality lens. Additionally, Rena is a founding member and chair of People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus and United Black Legislative Caucus. This committee recognizes the disparities that exist in Minnesota and their goal to create change.
Alan was Minnesota’s first Black Supreme Court Justice. Additionally, he is the founder of the Page Education Foundation. The Page Education Foundation provides scholarships and mentoring to young people of color. Alan was also an NFL star that played for the Minnesota Vikings as well as the Chicago Bears. These are only a few of the many influential leaders, activists and advocacy role models that have made great strides and deserve to be acknowledged. Take time during the month of February to find out more about the influential leaders that are listed here or look into the many more individuals who have done amazing things for our state/country to support Black History Month
Samantha Potocnik– Samantha is an intern at EVOLVE and a student at the University of Wisconsin River Falls.
EVOLVE’s CRC Committee
(Cultural Responsiveness Committee)