York YWCA: Icons of Black History

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York YWCA: Icons of Black History

By Yvette Davis and Roberta Geidner

February is Black History Month, a time to honor the rich history and contributions of the innumerable African-Americans who have risen from adversity in order to contribute
knowledge, skills and inventions to American society and beyond. African-American history is one filled with stories of people who have thrived in spite of decades of slavery, legalized segregation and systemic racism.

Black History Month was first established in the 1920s to encourage the coordinated teaching of the history of African-Americans, who are too often overlooked or deliberately
ignored in mainstream curricula.

In the decades since then, progress has been made.

However, too often mass media accentuates and perpetuates negative images of communities of color rather than revealing the truth of African-Americans’ lives and accomplishments.

We ask our white readers to think for a moment about your own heroes and mentors, and question what it would be like to have few positive role models around who look like you,
your family and your race.

The lack of those role models in everyday life leaves a tremendous hole in what could be possible in community building and justice.

Society does a grave disservice to rising generations when education does not incorporate all peoples who have made positive contributions to the world. African-Americans
have played an essential role in the development of every facet of the world, yet how many black inventors can you name? Scientists? Authors, architects, chefs, teachers, leaders?

If your knowledge of African-American history is a little less than stellar, then the YWCA
York’s Racial Justice Committee invites you to come learn with us: throughout Black History Month, the Racial Justice Committee has honored one icon a day via social media. We have honored some of the better-known icons, but we also touched upon those less familiar unsung heroes, as well.

For us at YWCA York, the importance of Black History Month goes beyond the month of February into every day of our lives.

We dream of a time when the wealth of African-American history is so ingrained
in our mainstream learning that a special commemorative month will be unnecessary.

Until then, please join us at YWCA York’s website, www.ywcayork.org and click on the
Facebook logo.

We also urge you to visit our website and consider taking the pledge to end racism in
your life.

Together we can change our world for all humanity by celebrating the richness that diversity brings to our community.

The Rev. Yvette Davis is chairperson of the YWCA York Racial Justice Committee. Roberta Geidner is CEO of the YWCA York.

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