Black History Month 2022
The celebration of Black History Month in February provides an opportunity for all of us to learn about American and world history through events and details that have often been neglected or edited out of how our shared story is told and understood. Racial injustice and structural barriers to opportunities for Black and African American people have systematically yielded unjust disadvantages and outcomes historically and today.
Carter G. Woodson organized the first National Negro History Week in 1926 to promote and celebrate the achievements of Black Americans. Woodson was born in Virginia, the son of former slaves. His education was delayed while he worked in the coal mines of West Virginia but, after training to be a teacher and school administrator at Berea College in Kentucky, he completed graduate degrees at the University of Chicago and obtained a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Woodson spent most of his academic career at Howard University, where he eventually served as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Woodson understood that every one of us, regardless of race or status, contributes to the American experience and our shared history. From his own experience and education, he knew that the contributions of Black people had been largely ignored in the history books. He believed that by telling the stories of Black Americans – and identifying heroic Black figures in the fields of science, the arts, politics, entertainment, and education – people would be encouraged to look beyond negative stereotypes and broaden their perspectives.
The idea of honoring Black History took hold and spread throughout the country, and in 1976, during the Bicentennial Celebrations of the founding of the United States, President Gerald R. Ford recognized the entire month of February as Black History Month. In the Presidential statement made at that time, President Ford said, “We can seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Through his work to establish appreciation for Black history, Dr. Woodson became one of the American heroes whose accomplishments we celebrate.
In 2016, President Barack Obama expanded on the sentiments of his predecessor in remarks he made about Black History month. “It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America. It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.”
The national theme for Black History Month this year is “Black Health and Wellness.” This theme resonates with our Mission and the work we do at Adventist HealthCare. By acknowledging and affirming the contributions of Black healthcare professionals, each of us can also be challenged to think how we can be inspired to work together to address the racial inequities that exist in access to healthcare professions and services for our communities.
Adventist HealthCare is deeply committed to advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion. Our celebration of Black History Month is both a look back at our shared history and an expression of our optimism and commitment to equal opportunity and healthier communities. My hope and prayer is that we will have the courage to apply what we learn from our past toward shaping brighter futures for every person we are privileged to serve.