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LPHI Staff Share Personal Reflections on Black History Month

To celebrate Black History Month, a few members of the LPHI staff have generously shared their personal reflections and stories about what Black History Month means to them, honoring someone who has inspired them, and so much more.

We invite you to share your own reflections and stories with us via LPHI’s social media channels. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Feamula Bradley
“Black History Month is set aside as an opportunity to show respect and honor the tremendous contributions and sacrifices of African Americans. While this is a noble gesture, it is also an opportunity to acknowledge the intentional and systematic omission of these contributions from our collective history. The truths of the past, and the lingering present-day trials and inequities, should properly be included. It is incumbent that “we the people” continue to learn, advocate, teach, and print how African Americans truly shaped, and are shaping, America. While February is a focal point, there should be a continuous effort to amplify the consciousness of all humankind beyond the month of February, until our walk, together, is parallel and becomes a daily occurrence.”

Daniele Farrisi
“Black History Month is an opportunity for me to seek out and learn about people and events that have been erased from the history I was taught in school. Without Black history, our understanding of history is incomplete. This year, I learned about Onesimus, an enslaved African man, who introduced the practice of smallpox inoculation to the American colonies in the early 18th century. Not only did his contribution save lives during that period, his legacy lives on as we seek to end the COVID-19 pandemic through a massive vaccination campaign. That’s a legacy we can all celebrate and be thankful for! As I learn more about Black history, I can help make sure those stories get told by sharing them with my own community.”

Liana Narcisse
“For me, Black History Month is a time to remember everyday heroes not found in history books. The people in our towns, communities, and even our own families who stood up to racism and oppression and decided to be the change. For me, Black History Month is honoring my mother who became a teacher in the same community where she faced racism, so future generations would not experience the same. It’s my childhood friend’s family who whole-heartedly welcomed me into their home. And her mom who dressed us in matching outfits and hairstyles so we could be “twins,” never addressing our racial differences. I like to think of Black History Month as a time to honor all the people, who when faced with the choice, chose love and acceptance over hate and fear.”

Michelle Ozah (video submission)

Leslie Clay
“Black History Month is a reminder for me to be a consistent student of history, especially American history and all of the people that are a part of that history. Until I was 9 years old, I was oblivious to Black History or the accomplishments of Black people. I grew up in predominately white/majority/mainstream spaces until then. I had a teacher named DeWitt Williams when I transferred, and he was a great teacher with a lot of information for a black girl like me. I was totally unfamiliar with any black history facts, as well as anything having to do with the African countries where my enslaved ancestors came from. He taught us Swahili, showed us artifacts from his trips across the diaspora from the “West Indies” to countries on the African continent like Ghana, Egypt, and Liberia. The most important thing that he taught me is that I should do the research for myself. What he was teaching was beyond the textbook and too much for 28 days. The complete history of the Americas is a 365 day a year venture and far fuller than our current textbooks can imagine. I am so grateful for Carter G. Woodson, who sat in the South Side YMCA in Chicago and decided to lobby for Negro History Week. Without his tenacity, vision, and lack of patience we got the seed that has brought us to Black History Month as well as whatever lies beyond the confines of the month of February.”

Ashley Babineaux
“Black History Month is always bittersweet to me. Sweet because each year I’m in awe of the contributions black people have made and are making for the world. Bitter because we think back to darker times and how our current circumstances mirror the past. It is a time for celebration and for mourning. Black history month is unique in its dichotomy because the history of black people in America has woes as does it have exultation. That duality lives in us always. Black history month fills me with pride and joy for where I come from and hope for where I am going. I keep that feeling with me throughout the year, always learning and uncovering things about black people in America that is not “mainstream”. I love learning about local pioneers and how their actions directly affect my life. Black history month reminds everyone about how valuable black lives are, even when we are conditioned to think otherwise.”

Tiffany Jeanminette
“As we close out this month of February, we want to ensure that our community and stakeholders know that we will continue, every day of the year, to honor our black ancestors and lift up our modern-day heroes, like our black scientist, doctors, nurses, and frontline health care staff working to ensure health through this COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve dedicated my career to ensuring that we eliminate systemic barriers and challenges for all in Louisiana to be healthy and well with equal access to a high quality of life. May we continue to share great homage and appreciation for those who have died and sacrificed for us to be here.”