One Month Isn’t Enough

By Meital Caplan
February 28, 2018

The month of February marks a time in America where we collectively recognize and celebrate the infinite contributions made by the Black community. For this Black History Month’s reflections, we asked staff to provide thoughts on how they’re carrying the lessons and celebrations of this community, and all of its unsung heroes, not just this month, but every day of every year.

What would you encourage Fellows, PDs and other members of the OneGoal family to reflect on this Black History Month?

If you visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., you’ll find a floor dedicated to the concept of “making a way out of no way.” On its walls you see pictures of countless African-Americans who have exemplified this spirit; who throughout history found a way to succeed in spite of having limited access to education, the right to vote, quality housing and health care, economic opportunities, and freedom. Instead, they had a society telling them all the things they couldn’t do, be or have. But… they made a way.

Today, we get to work with OneGoal fellows who are the next generation of African-American leaders that will one day adorn museum walls for their acts of brilliance, courage, creativity and strength. However, like many before them, they continue to come up against incredible obstacles and seemingly insurmountable odds. But, the secret to overcoming these challenges is right where it has always been – within them – handed down from generation to generation, and calling them to be the next example in a long line of examples of African Americans making a way out of no way. I encourage all of us to reflect on what else we can be doing to help our fellows tap into this power, especially when it is buried by years of hardship and struggle.

Kwame Griffith, President

How do you celebrate Black contributions to society year-round?

By educating my Program Directors and Fellows about the greatness of Black leaders and individuals and their contributions to our society, culture and country as well as highlighting the communities, cultures and countries of origin of our Fellows. Also, by validating who Fellows are now and the strengths and assets they and their families posses.

Marisa Lopez, Director of Teacher Support

Who is the unsung hero that you’ll be celebrating this Black History Month?

This year I celebrated our African American teachers—unsung heroes on the front lines—working in struggling, urban and rural schools across the country. I encourage everyone to write and express their gratitude for teachers, particularly African American teachers, working in schools trying to make a difference in the lives of students.

Lesley Esters Redwine, Chief External Officer

How do you celebrate Black contributions to society year-round?

I do my best to stay informed by listening to podcasts such as Code Switch and 1A that often touch on diversity, equity and inclusion topics. I intend to celebrate Black contributions to society year-round by doing some more research on the great champions we’ve had throughout history.

Michael Tee, Director of Teacher Support

What would you encourage Fellows, PDs and other members of the OneGoal family to reflect on this Black History Month?

I would encourage everyone to reflect on how much of the Black experience touches their life, and how they actively facilitate that experience. Are you enjoying something that a Black inventor, musician or scientist created? How much do you know about them? How often are you deeply engaged in elements of Black culture? Where do you stand to learn more, and how do you begin that process? Reflect on the frequency and the context, and identify opportunities to explore new territory through these interactions.

Dominique Davis, Director of Postsecondary Partnerships

How do you celebrate Black contributions to society year-round?

There’s three important things I can think of: 1) Continue to be a lifelong learner about the courage, contributions and leadership of Black Americans throughout our history and in our current world. 2) Dedicate my work to affirm and empower more young people of color. 3) Be an interrupter in the face of overt and subversive racism. As Dr. King said, “Silence is Betrayal.”

Monique Zurita, Managing Director of Marketing + Communications