As we come to the conclusion of Black History Month, we at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco (BGCSF) would like to share how our Clubs and youth celebrated the contributions and achievements of Black Leaders both past and present. It is our hope that by bringing attention to compelling stories of Black leaders, we will inspire young people to passionately pursue their dreams, and perhaps someday be one of the figures we celebrate during Black History Month.
During this month and throughout the year, BGCSF is committed to elevating the voices, experiences, and perspectives of Club members, staff, and communities. This is just one of the many Cultural Celebrations we recognize throughout the year, as part of our ongoing commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.
In recognition of Black History Month, we are pleased to share some personal reflections from four Black senior leaders at BGCSF as well as some photos of the celebrations at our Clubs.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
"In this world of "privilege" for me it is a privilege to be Black. It's like a super power. There is beauty in the melanin of my skin, an innate resilience in my DNA, strength in my character, love and passion in how I communicate, and a confidence in my ability to do anything I set my mind to accomplish. I often wonder how much stronger, as a People, we would be if we ALL truly understood our greatness.
I believe that Black History Month is about celebrating and honoring the achievements and legacy of Black leaders who have laid the path for future generations to follow. It also serves as a reminder that America's history is intrinsically shaped by and tied to the contributions, intellect, innovation, courage, and hard work of Black Americans that came before us.
Martin Luther King Jr. stated "We are not makers of history. We are made by history." I spend the whole year, grinding, trying to carve out my impact on the world but Black History month forces me to reflect on the sacrifices; made by my ancestors, that have given me the opportunity to prosper in a society that doesn't always believe in equal opportunity for all, especially if your skin just so happens to be Black.
A month does not define our legacy. As Black people WE must take pride in the power of our history each and every day. We stand on the shoulders of wise Elders. For me, Black History Month is that reminder of how important it is to honor those great leaders, as well as our responsibility to positively contribute to and advance this glorious history."
Why is Black History Month important to you personally?
"Black History Month is an important opportunity for us as Black people to be reminded how brilliant and amazing we are! It is our time to celebrate Black excellence - past, present, and future.
Black History month is important to me because it provides space to acknowledge and honor many of the contributions Black people have made to this country. It is a time for us to teach not just our young people, but the world that Black history is a huge part of American history. It also provides the opportunity to learn about the many inventions by Black people; which we do not always learn about in textbooks.
It is important for us to hear about successful Black people and how they persevered despite the obstacles they faced. These stories are powerful and inspire people to follow their dreams despite the many disparities that still exist today. "
What moment in Black History has been especially impactful to you?
As a Black woman, I often tap into the generations before me. Harriet Tubman’s actions are the moments in Black History that have been especially impactful for me. From her time as a child to an adult, her commitment and dedication to Black People has had a positive influence on America and especially Black People/Women. Her resilience and actions are the reasons I strive for nothing less than excellence in my own life. Her multiple milestones have impacted my movements, and allowed me to be proud for standing up for what I believe in.
By 1849, Harriet began to use the Underground Railroads and began freeing slaves to the North. After the war, she partnered with E. Stanton and Susan B Anthony in their quest for women’s rights. I too have a story to share and I can have a powerful and lasting impact. I want to do my part to make sure I am here for all, and help others who are trying to get to the modern day “'North.'”
Why is celebrating Black History Month especially important at a youth-serving organization?
"Our members gain friendships that are reflective of the diverse neighborhoods we serve. Members learn, grow and collaborate with friends of different backgrounds and cultures, where they are allowed to explore and ask questions in a safe and supportive environment.
Black History Month is an important part of that cultural appreciation and exploration. For our youth, it is important that they understand that there are many Black role models that have made tremendous contributions to our society.
The celebration and appreciation of diverse cultures is an important part of ensuring that youth leave us ready for life. It is our responsibility to cultivate an appreciation for the differences we share as well as an understanding of our many commonalities."
Our Don Fisher Clubhouse members participated in a gallery walk and learned about Black leaders, innovators, artists, and athletes. At the end of the tour, members sampled red beans and rice and hush puppies and learned about the history of the dishes. At our Excelsior Clubhouse, members are weaving individual squares and building a freedom quilt art piece for their lobby. They have also been busy researching Black leaders and chose a red beans and rice recipe to celebrate as part of their cooking program!
To see more of our Club celebrations follow us on social media!