Black History Month
“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes, Poet, Playwright
“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.” – Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Activist
Black History Month, or National African American History Month, has been celebrated annually since 1915. It is a time to recognize and celebrate the achievements by black Americans and their central role in United States History.
Black History month has been celebrated by every U.S. President during the month of February since 1976. Other countries in the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom also devote a month to celebrating black history.
During this month, make a point of researching the stories of a variety of African American men and women who have made extraordinary contributions to our society and to the Catholic Church throughout history.
What do the COVID-19 vaccine, ice cream, central heating, stoplights, mailboxes, and phone and computer screens all have in common? Black American inventors. Most of us are not aware that Black Americans developed these life- changing inventions.
Alice H. Walker was working as a cook in New Jersey in 1919 when she patented a central heating system that led to the creation of
modern home heating systems used across the globe.
Garrett Morgan, the son of formerly enslaved parents, had only an elementary school education when he created the stoplight that is still used at intersections today.
Mark Dean led the team of computer scientists at IBM who invented color computer monitors—the technology that allowed for modern computers and smartphones.3
Valerie Thomas is the NASA physicist who invented a transmitter in 1980 that could project 3D images onto a screen, thus paving the way for the 3D movies playing in theaters today.4
And in 2020, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett became the lead scientist at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center. Her work led to the creation of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.5
Perhaps some of you have seen the movie, Hidden Figures. It features the three Black American women who were mathematicians, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughn. They played vital roles in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program, helping to send John Glenn into orbit, and continued contributing to some of the subsequent flights into space.
Merciful God, in this troubled world we live in, heal and renew us in these trying times. Inspire us to look beyond our own fears, self-absorption and indifference, and to listen to the voice of conscience within us that orients us towards truth, love and justice. May we learn to be a society free of embedded judgments and racism, and celebrate together our differences and our humanity. Amen. Adapted Prayer written by Dianna Ortiz, O.S.U.