January and February are important months for racial equality.
Last January 15, the USA celebrated Martin Luther King Day. An American Baptist minister and activist, Martin Luther King Jr. is known as the leader and most influential spokesperson for the civil rights movement in 1955. He fought for the right to vote, the abolishment of racial segregation, and the granting of other civil rights to Americans of African descent. He is most remembered for his “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
February, on the other hand, is Black History Month. It was created to celebrate the contributions of African Americans to the United States.
Black History Month recognizes black people from all periods–even those preceding the civil rights movement and those who lived through slavery. Nevertheless, how that works out chronologically each year is that we remember the granting of equality and basic rights in January, and then in February, we honor who people can become and what they can contribute when given the chance—and even the changes they manage to make while being discriminated against.
Martin Luther King Jr. is most remembered for his “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Notable black people to be inspired by
I read in Susan Cain’s book about introverts, Quiet, that Rosa Parks was a timid woman. She wasn’t one to put on a show or cause a scene. But that didn’t mean she didn’t have conviction. She stood up to racism by refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. This sparked an entire movement, causing the Montgomery bus boycott by black people. The movement propelled Martin Luther King Jr. to the national stage.
Katherine Johnson was a brilliant mathematician who did crucial work behind the scenes at NASA. Her calculations were instrumental to missions such as John Glenn’s orbit around the earth. She faced discrimination in a mostly white and male field, but that didn’t stop her from advancing space exploration. To learn more about her story, you can watch the film “Hidden Figures”.
Thurgood Marshall was the first ever African American Supreme Court Justice. He was a prominent figure in the movement to end racial segregation in American public schools, which was declared unconstitutional in 1954.
These are people who had dreams and worked hard for them. But they also understood the importance of living in a world that gives others access to opportunities–that does not discriminate and allows people to succeed if they try.eQUAL
Barack and Michelle Obama
Barack Obama became the first African American President of the United States in 2008, setting one of the biggest examples in leadership and racial equality. But did you know that Michelle used to be his mentor at a corporate law firm? As First Lady, Michelle helped working women balance their career and family life and promoted the arts and education.
I’m currently reading her memoir “Becoming” which tells the story of her journey from Chicago, to corporate law, and eventually becoming First Lady, providing inspiration to girls everywhere.
Trevor Noah is a South African comedian and former television host, who is known for his comedy and political commentary. The former host of “The Daily Show” is known for his spot-on commentary on current events, seamlessly combining humor and astute observation to put big events into perspective for thousands of viewers. I highly recommend his memoir “Born A Crime”, where he writes about the complexities of growing up in apartheid-era South Africa.