Members of IAAP’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee were asked to explain why this year’s Black History Month is important to them. Here are their responses.
Jay Z said, “Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it, and use it as a foundation to grow.” Black history is American history. When it is not widely taught or shared, all of us miss the opportunity to understand and grow. Take for instance, Mary McLeod Bethune; she was born in South Carolina and educated in North Carolina. She was a teacher, businesswoman, advocate and activist. She opened a school, which later became a college, and was the highest ranking African American woman in federal government. These are highly impressive accomplishments for 2021, but this occurred nearly 100 years ago (1920s-1930s) and is astonishing for the daughter of formerly enslaved parents. As an African-American woman and a native North Carolinian, I’m proud of and inspired by her example, which is one of many reasons that I joined IAAP’s DEI committee. We all are dependent on knowledge to grow; I accept that growth may not always be comfortable or easy, but I’ll take uncomfortable growth over the alternative.Veronica Ingram
After a summer of ”wokeness,” it’s an opportunity to expose the newly alert to forgotten narratives of ingenuity, resilience, and dreams of ancestors realized. I am a 402-year-old miracle personified.Sonya Ponds
Black History Month is normally a month to reflect with pride on the many contributions made, foundations laid and progress made by our Black pioneers down through the years. However, last year, we witnessed an uprising in the Black community like we haven’t seen in many, many years, and it opened the floodgates of people of color and other races and nationalities being sick and tired of the myriad injustices and lives needlessly lost that occur on a regular basis. Young adults took to the streets in protest like never before. These young people were not even alive to know the struggle their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents went through growing up just because of the color of their skin.
So this year, Black History Month has taken on another level of meaning, pride and importance as history was made in the midst of turmoil, pain and struggle for equality last year. We still have so much work to do and there is a greater awareness and purpose to make change.Lá Shawn J. Sandifer
This year’s Black History Month is important to me because I can feel the ground shifting beneath our feet as we collectively strive for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.La Tasha Woods
Black History Month is very important to me every year. However, this year provides me with another chance to be celebrate and continue the legacy of those that paved the way for me, as well as open doors to accomplish and strive to be the successful and goal-oriented Black man that I am today. As an administrative professional, I too have an opportunity to contribute and give back to my community by sharing my wisdom, knowledge, and expertise with other people of color, especially Black men in the administrative field. In addition, show how beautiful and awesome diversity is and can be in the world.Dexter K. Allen
I am thankful for the observance of black history month this year because the year that was 2020 has made us look at ourselves in terms of “who we are” as a nation opposed to “who we say we are.” If we say we are diverse then everyone should be learning about the valuable contributions of Black Americans. Black history should be celebrated as American history thus shouldn’t be separated out for one month during the year. But indeed it should be integrated into every day of the year.
We have come further along in the journey but still have a ways to travel.Joan Daily