When we celebrate Black History Month, we recognize, honor, and acknowledge the contributions and achievements of those who went before us. Black History Month gives everyone the opportunity to share, celebrate and understand the impact of black heritage and culture.

The theme of Black History Month 2021 is "The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity," chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. 

Cicely Tyson (December 19, 1924 – January 28, 2021) was an American actress and fashion model. In a career spanning more than seven decades, she became known for her portrayal of strong African-American women.

Alice Ball developed the first successful treatment for those suffering from Hansen’s disease (leprosy). Ball was also the very first African American and the first woman to graduate with a M.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Hawaii. Tragically, Ball died at the young age of 24.It was not until years after her death that Ball got the proper credit she deserved. Alice Ball - Contributions, Facts & Leprosy - Biography

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks was being treated at John Hopkins for cervical cancer. Her cells were utilized without consent to find cures for cancers and other diseases (including utilization for vaccine development for COVID-19).   Yet medical treatment is severally lacking for black Americans as highlighted with the disproportionate rate of impact of Covid-19 on Black Americans. 

Amanda Sarah Chase Gorman is an American poet and activist. Her work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. Gorman was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. She garnered national attention and praise for her poem “The Hill We Climb” that she delivered at the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee in protest during the national anthem in 2017. Kaepernick’s decision stemmed from a desire to draw attention to various forms of systematic injustice and violence against African Americans across throughout the country. Many other players joined Kaepernick in taking a knee during the anthem as a show of solidarity. His decision cost him his career but pushed the league toward recognizing player rights while sparking a much larger awareness within society as a whole. (Credit: www.yardbarker.com)

Chadwick Boseman, one of the most extraordinary talents of his generation, succumbed to colon cancer at age 43. Whether it was Jackie Robinson, James Brown in “Get On Up,” Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall” or T’Challa in “Black Panther,” Mr. Boseman always found the humanity in the roles that he played. Boseman’s last role was in the upcoming adaptation of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”.

In a moment that transcended the ranks of sports and became one of the defining moments in American history, Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945. After a brief minor league stint, Robinson debuted at first base with the Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Robinson faced substantial pressure and racism. He became baseball’s first Rookie of the Year and later became NL MVP, a six-time All-Star and a World Series champion. He brought in an exhilarating style of play. Robinson was the right man for an impossibly difficult but incredibly necessary job.

Muhammad Ali was always destined to be far more than just an incredible boxer from Louisville, Kentucky. He is the only three-time heavyweight champion in history and a man of principles. He sacrificed the best years of his career battling the U.S. government over his refusal to involve himself in a war he didn’t believe in. He was a frontline voice during the Civil Rights movement and hero to the world over for decades afterward. He was a truly legendary fighter, both in and out of the ring. (Credit: www.yardbarker.com)

Venus and Serena Williams have been raising the bar to new heights for African-Americans and women, inspiring a new generation to follow in their footsteps. The Compton-born sisters have combined for 30 Grand Slam titles as individuals and have met in Grand Slam finals nine times. They became the first duo in history to meet in four consecutive Grand Slam finals and have won 14 Grand Slam Doubles titles together.  Each also has a singles title at the Olympics and three Olympic Doubles titles as well. (Credit: www.yardbarker.com)

Founded on February 12, 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. The mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. By 2021, the NAACP had more than 2,200 branches and more than half a million members worldwide. https://naacp.org/

Twenty-four years to the day after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in professional baseball, the Pittsburgh Pirates made another type of history that had been previously inconceivable. On Sept. 1, 1971, for the first time in MLB history, a completely black and latino lineup took the field. The outfield was comprised of Gene Clines between two future Hall of Famers, Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente. The infield featured Rennie Stennett, Jackie Hernandez, Dave Cash and Al Oliver. Finally, Manny Sanguillen was behind the plate catching Dock Ellis. A truly significant and extraordinarily rare event. (Credit: www.yardbarker.com)

No superstar in the past 30 years has used his substantial platform to the extent that LeBron James has to call out injustices within society. That was made loud and clear when James and his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates and opponents on the Brooklyn Nets wore T-shirts with the phrase "I Can’t Breathe" during warmups. The statement drew attention to a string of increasingly violent actions against African Americans during that time. (Credit: www.yardbarker.com)

Tuskegee Experiment is a 40 year “experiment” where researchers in collaboration with local physicians held appropriate care, even when effective treatment was identified.    This was conducted on African American men that not only negatively impacted the participants but also their wives and children.  The study did not shut down until July of 1972 after an investigator leaked it to the press.  

Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave who became a prominent activist, author, and public speaker. He taught himself to read and write. After several failed attempts to escape slavery, Douglass was successful in 1838 and later married Anna Murray. He ultimately became a leader in the abolitionist movement before and after the Civil War and became an advocate for women’s rights. He wrote five autobiographies and dozens of notable speeches despite not receiving a formal education and continued his push for equality and human rights until his death in 1895.

Most people recognize Sojourner Truth as a fervent abolitionist who was able to escape slavery and advocate for the rights of blacks and women, but many don’t know about her own career as a nurse. During her enslavement, she served as a nurse to the Dumont family. When she achieved freedom, she worked for the National Freedman’s Relief Association in Washington DC. As part of this position, she often spoke before Congress, advocating for nursing education and formal training programs. nurse.org/articles/black-history-month-nursing-leaders/e. It's easy.

Harriet Tubman is another recognizable name from history, but her work as a nurse is often overshadowed by her efforts to help over 300 slaves travel the underground railroad to freedom. During the Civil War, she also earned a reputation as a capable nurse with extensive knowledge of natural and herbal remedies. She treated many soldiers who were suffering from dysentery and smallpox and remarkably managed to stay healthy. When the war ended, she continued to care for others and eventually helped to start a home for the elderly. nurse.org/articles/black-history-month-nursing-leaders/

World Day of Social Justice is an international day recognizing the need to promote social justice, which includes efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion, gender equality, unemployment, human rights, and social protections.

On World Day of Social Justice, there are media campaigns to raise awareness of Promoting human rights, removing artificial social barriers based on race, gender, or religion, and standing up for the rights of migrants, the disabled and the elderly are among the observance’s themes on any given year.

Tyler Perry was born in 1969 and took his struggles and turned them into gold.  He has used his success to build his own studios for creating films and television shows. 

When Misty Copeland took her very first ballerina class on the basketball court at the Boys & Girls Club, her life began clicking into place. Following her humble beginnings on the basketball court, Copeland took the stage years later as the first-ever African American female principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre. Copeland has since spent years dancing en pointe and inspiring women and men around the world, performing everywhere from Prince’s purple piano to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House. 

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