February is Black History Month, a time to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions made by Black heroes throughout history. In recent years, it’s also become a time to strengthen allegiance and support with marginalized communities.
Our colleagues at Vericast (Valassis is a Vericast business) and our Multicultural Organization Supporting An Inclusive Culture (MOSAIC) Employee Resource Group (ERG) know the significance of Black history. In this blog post, Tonya “TJ” Jones-Dandridge, VP of finance and Vericast MOSAIC ERG co-lead, and Noureen Shaikh, manager of sales enablement and Vericast MOSAIC ERG co-lead, share their thoughts on what Black History Month means to them while featuring perspectives from leaders across the organization.
We would like for people to see Black History Month as a time to spotlight the full spectrum of being Black and living in America, similar to how we take time to celebrate other cultures. We wouldn’t stop an Irish American from celebrating St. Patrick’s Day or a Christian from celebrating Christmas. Those cultures are part of who they — and we — are, and every year we take time to celebrate part of our ancestral history.
Frederick Waithe, Executive Director, Pricing at Vericast
Black History Month is that time for African Americans to acknowledge key figures from our past and present. It’s an opportunity to spotlight and celebrate the achievements that African Americans have accomplished in this country, despite the history of racism and oppression.
Valerie Starling, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Program Manager at Vericast
Most of all, it is a time to teach or remind our children of the history lessons they might not learn as part of the everyday school curriculum.
When President Gerald Ford expanded Negro History Week into a full month in 1976, he said the country needed to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Nearly half a century later, this statement still holds true.
Black History Month affords us the chance to challenge what we learned in history, dig deeper, and find out the actual events of the past that were not taught in schools.
Jacqueline Morrow, Team Leader – Order Fulfillment at Harland Clarke, a Vericast business
It allows us to learn about, celebrate, and honor Black leaders. Many of these leaders endured sacrifice and suffering and must be honored. While those who contributed in the name of science, innovation, and economy were silently ignored, Black History Month celebrates and puts their achievements into the proper context.
Black History Month helps us learn about Black culture. The media tends to showcase the negatives of the Black community, such as poverty, drugs, incarceration, lack of education, etc. These portrayals paint a biased and unfair stereotype in our minds. Black History Month enables us to pause and focus on a more positive narrative of the Black culture. We can look to successful Black business leaders, poets, musicians, scientists, philanthropists, and artists to mitigate the damage caused by the unfair depiction of Black Americans in the media.
Karriel Augustin, Plant Manager at Valassis, a Vericast business
When we celebrate Black History Month, we aren’t just celebrating Black history. We are celebrating American history, which belongs to all Americans. By collectively and consciously celebrating Black history, we come together and continue to rewrite the narrative of our diverse nation.
Do you want to build up your foundation of Black history knowledge and observe it year-round? Read more about how to apply those lessons and keep the momentum going in this post.