Celebrating Black History Month Year ‘Round
March 1, 2021
By Donna Walker James, Executive Director, CORE
Rhonda Green-Smith, Deputy Director, CORE
Beyond Black History Month
While yesterday marked the end of February, by no means should we believe that we are at the end of Black History Month. Instead, consider February the beginning of intentional learning and appreciation of the significant, yet concealed contributions of African Americans and immigrants to the US from the African diaspora.
The importance of carving out dedicated time and attention to celebrate, uncover and explore the buried history of this nation is just as important today—in the era of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter—as it was yesterday, and we must continue to seek the historic truth as the only building blocks fit for the promise of tomorrow.
The national designation of “Black History Month” in the United States was officially recognized in 1976 with a call to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” February, although unfortunately a short month, was selected to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
African Diaspora Comes to Northern VA and CORE
Our nation’s 2021 Black History Month theme “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States.
Computer CORE students who identify as Black or African American make up 147 (37%) of the over 400 adult students currently registered for Computer CORE’s Spring 2021 semester, our 5th online semester. Students enrolled this term are from the following countries: Cameroon (2), Chad (2), Congo (3), Djibouti (1) Egypt (2), Ethiopia (64), Ghana (1), Guinea-Bissau (1), Ivory Coast (3), Morocco (1), Nigeria (1), Saudi Arabia (2), Sierra Leone (1), Sudan (24), and the US (34).
Black History | Black Futures
Hopes for all our students are high in 2021! They have spent and continue to spend their time well, seeking as many computer skills and workforce development supports as possible to prepare themselves for a re-opened economy.
These times can’t help but feel like a turning point, a corner that we may not yet see around, but we feel the energy of history pushing forward. Join us as we navigate this directional shift, realizing the changes together as a community and building new futures along with our students.
In the spirit of continued learning, we recommend two books to reflect on the Black experience in the US:
- How to be an Antiracist, by Ibrahim X. Kendi
In a compelling and readable memoir style, Kendi reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America including his own story of awakening to antiracism.
- Black Immigrants in the United States: Essays on the Politics of Race, Language, and Voice, co-edited by Ayanna Cooper, Ed.D. and Awad Ibrahim
One the first books published on this topic in the US (published Sep. 2020), the essays share voices of Black immigrant narratives, where they come from, what languages and histories they bring with them to the United States, and discussion of their challenges as well as their triumphs. Countries represented include Barbados, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Haiti, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, and the US.