By Valley Medical Center’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Since 1976, every president of the United States has designated February as Black History Month. This tradition was born from the acknowledgement of “Negro History Week” by the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson. It is an annual celebration of the numerous achievements of African Americans and recognizes their foundational role throughout the history of the United States. We hope that Black History Month is seen as a starting point for a larger conversation about combating the erasure of Black history. African Americans play a prolific and resilient role in American history. Black representation must be included when recounting our country’s history as it truly is, an integral part of the interwoven fabric that is the United States.
Valley’s Black History Month Selfie Tapestries
Valley Medical Center caregiver colleagues share thoughts about recognizing and celebrating Black History Month and recommendations for enhancing understanding of Black history and culture.
What Black History Month means to me: “BHM is a reminder that black history is American history. It is a time that we get to acknowledge how far we have come as a nation and the tremendous work ahead of us in promoting equity, diversity and social justice within the African American community. It is also a time that we get to celebrate our accomplishments and remind ourselves how resilient we are as a people.”
- Books: When Affirmative Action Was White; Hidden Figures; Dreams from my Father, Becoming Michelle Obama
- Movies/Documentaries: I Am Not Your Negro, 13th, The Black Power Mixtape, Men of Honor, The Black Panthers, Freedom Riders, Selma, American Skin, Just Mercy, Something the Lord Made, Sarafina
What Black History Month means to me: “A time to Celebrate a once ostracized People. A time to acknowledge their contributions to society. A time to uplift, reflect, and encourage positivity; in efforts to avoid repeating the cruel History Blacks have endured in America.”
Recommendations: Greens! Not just any but Turnip/Mustard Greens mixed. Season water to taste, bring to a boil. Add smoked meat of your liking and cook until tender. Next, add greens and cook until done.
What Black History Month means to me: “A time of reflection – to look back on our achievements in spite of constant struggle and resistance to our survival and well being. As we look back, we call on our ancestors for continued strength and inspiration on our journey.”
- Watch: The Wiz, Eyes on the Prize, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, 13th, When They See Us, Hidden Figures, Greenbook, I Am Not Your Negro, Imitation of Life (1959), American Son, Black-ish; Video: Stand Up – Cynthia Erivo
- Read: Kindred by Octavia Butler (Black, Female, Science Fiction Writer!!)
- Listen (Podcasts): A Chronicle of Racism in America, Code Switch, 1619, Historically Black
What Black History Month means to me: “Black History month to me is a time of celebration. It’s a moment that people are open to hearing, seeing, experiencing, learning and researching a culture that is unfortunately to often forgotten or unappreciated. I personally enjoy seeing others celebrate the past and present accomplishments of our culture. To know where you started and where you have made it to allows you to appreciate both the lows and high points in life. We cannot appreciate the sun without the experience of rain.”
- Movies: Just Mercy, The Hurricane (book and movie), The color purple, Friday, Next Friday and the Friday after next. Malcolm X, Roots, The Tuskegee Airmen, Hidden Figures, The Help, Remember the Titans, 12 Years a Slave, Fruitvale Station, Do the Right thing and Selma.
- Podcast: Joe Budden Podcast.
- I’m starting a podcast called The Phonebooth Podcast soon. So stay tuned for that as well.
What Black History Month means to me: “Black history month is a time to recognize the achievements in the process of attaining equality and inclusion for the African American communities.”
- Book: Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr.
- Movie: Selma
- Podcast: Truth’s Table
What Black History Month means to me: “Black History Month encompasses so much for me. It is a time of reflection and appreciation of the rich history, strength and joy that is Black Culture, while also acknowledging the continued fight for social justice and equity for my people. I take time to honor my ancestors and leaders that came before me and think about the impression I will leave. This month provides a spotlight opportunity to appreciate the melanin rainbow within our community. It is a chance to share traditions and stories with those who do and do not identify as Black in hopes of creating a more unified society. Black History Month is a month I can specifically designate to celebrating Black joy internally and with others.”
- Movie/Documentary: Hidden Figures, 13th, Ray, Drumline, Get Out, American Skin, Akeelah and the Bee, Just Mercy, Girls Trip, The Hate U Give, Coming to America, Friday
- Books: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson, Pushout by Monique Morris, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae, Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Radio/Podcast: The Breakfast Club, 2 Dope Queens
What Black History Month means to me: “I use this month of February to remind my Young Adult Children & grandkids of our past struggles and a future that will only get better through diligence. This month has also been a time to reflect on our Culture as a whole & how our Black History has helped ALL people regardless of Race, Gender, or Sexuality – not just African Americans!”
- Movies: The Color Purple, The Temptations, The “Five” Heartbeats, Passing, Harriet, A Journal for Jordan, Respect, King Richard, The Harder They Fall
- Books: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison, Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson, The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
- Podcast: Oprah’s Super Soul Conversation, Black Girl Podcast
What Black History Month means to me: “Not a day goes by without reflecting on how far we still have to go in implementing EDI in this great nation. As I tread along in my daily activities, this month reminds me of how proud in am as a black man of my accomplishment and what I and hope to accomplish in the future.”
Recommendations: Change in school curriculum to teach the future generation on the struggles not only for blacks but also other minority cultures from Asians, Mexicans, Native Indians and more what they have faced to have their presence recognized as equal.
What Black History Month means to me: “Black history month is a time of reflection and appreciation of the contributions African Americans have made to the world. It’s a time to celebrate and show love & reverence to our ancestors and transfer legacy to coming generations.”
- RADICAL Self-Care: Make an active decision to put your wellness first! All people are valuable: know your worth!
- Book: Self-Care for Black Women: 150 Ways to Radically Accept & Prioritize Your Mind Body & Soul by Oludara Adeeyo