Celebrating Black History Month

Every February, the United States honors the contributions, sacrifices, and achievements of Black Americans who have helped shape the nation. We’ve asked several Group 1001 employees how they celebrate Black History Month and what it means to them.

Black History Month originally started as National Negro History Week in 1926. It was founded by Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson, who believed that education and awareness of history were the only ways to achieve equity and equality across society. Negro History Week fell on the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially expanded Negro History Week into Black History Month, stating the United States needed to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. This year’s theme, “African Americans and the Arts,” infuses African, Caribbean, and Black American experiences.

Mark your calendars for an upcoming Group 1001 panel: Intersection of Sports and Education Impacting Our Communities. The presentation will take place on Tuesday, February 20 at noon ET in the Zionsville Café and will be livestreamed. Stay tuned for more details.

How Do Group 1001 Employees Acknowledge and Celebrate?

Jason Atkins, Director Innovation Strategy, didn’t truly appreciate the significance of Black History Month as a child in Brooklyn, NY, because he was surrounded by multiple generations of Black people in his community who had done remarkable things.

“I was also surrounded by many peers whose futures were bright. In some ways for me, Black History Month felt like a celebration of ‘normal’ things. The month truly became special for me as I developed a deeper understanding of the obstacles that many Black Americans, including those in my community, had to overcome to achieve the things they did – be they coming up with transformational inventions, building successful businesses, or the gradual transformation of America into a true democracy where all citizens enjoy equal protection under the law. Black history is American history, and I look forward to learning more about the ways that Black Americans have contributed to America this February.”

Lanisha Harrison, Contact Center Operational Supervisor, (far right in the middle picture with her sisters and mom), likes to spend Black History Month embracing some of the challenges and accomplishments African American people have faced over 100 years.

“It's an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come but also understand some of these challenges still exist. Each year during Black History Month, my family and I share the accomplishments of our Black ancestors we may not have learned about in school. Through our family tradition, I have learned the names and accomplishments of some amazing men and women. And because of their struggles and accomplishments, I feel empowered to be creative and great in my own way.”

Danny Mills, Manager of Corporate Real Estate, celebrates by making it a point to research and then share little-known Black history facts all month at dinner time.

“I mentor at-risk youth in my city for a local foundation and when speaking, I equip them with the knowledge of the great accomplishments and contributions that Black people have made. When a child can truly recognize his or her potential for greatness, then the possibilities are limitless.

We all know the unfortunate truth of colonial slavery in America. It's often a touchy subject. This is why Black History Month is so important to me because it’s an opportunity to emphasize the history and greatness of our ancestors (globally). One of the best things that we can do during Black History Month is to teach, share, and more importantly heal. I teach the youth that slavery was not a part of Black history, but more so, an interruption in true Black history. Just that simple shift in mindset can promote self-esteem in a young mind.”

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