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Culture is an interesting thing. It’s teaches us where we came from, informs who we are, and inspires the generations that follow. Many of us pour ourselves and our histories into the communities we belong to—we shape the narrative of our families, our neighborhoods and society at large.

Nowhere is this truer than in the African American community. Black History Month celebrates the tradition of American excellence from the perspective of those who have lived through some of its best and worst moments. It asks a group of people to continue sharing their collective story in order to enrich the greater whole. As Black History Month comes to a close this year I find myself reflecting on how we as a nation celebrate these achievements.

Last night, my children’s elementary school hosted an evening of performances celebrating Black History Month, which is always an inspiring night full of emotion. I am so happy that my kids are growing up in a community where we value our differences and celebrate our history.

The legacy and contributions of the Black community are expansive—and continue to grow. In fact, when Black History Month was first established in 1925, it was actually a week-long event. During this time, the arc of history turned to recognizing a faction of people often left out, underserved and underrepresented.

It would take another 50 years before the celebration would become month-long in 1976. And it had some powerful voices behind the change, with President Gerald Ford saying, “[Everyone should] seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

It’s been 43 years since those words. Let’s not wait even another year to push our American soul to be more fair, more equal and more reflective of the communities of the 21st Century. Let’s continue to learn from one another, empower our culture and move forward together. 

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