After a year of protests, blatant racial injustice, and disproportionate deaths from COVID-19, there is a renewed energy powering the celebration and recognition of Black History Month.
For many, this time of celebration comes with fresh urgency and many firsts. Our nation saw its first Black, South Asian, and woman vice president sworn into office on Jan. 20. The Senate confirmed Lloyd Austin, a retired four-star Army general, to serve as the first Black defense secretary. And the Biden administration has made racial equity a key hallmark of how it will re-shape investments in the federal workforce and the public.
President Biden has expressed gratitude to Black Americans, crediting them for his election win and promising to remember them throughout his presidency, saying, “In the Biden-Harris Administration, we are committed to finishing the work left undone and fulfilling the promise of America for Black families and communities and for all Americans.”
As this work unfolds, we’re highlighting a few of the different ways that government agencies are honoring Black History Month.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has an extensive line-up for February. Despite canceling all in-person events, the museum will still host virtual events.
You can join the NMAAHC on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. EST for Historically Speaking: The Economic Impact Of COVID-19 On The African American Community. The panel will feature Dr. Algernon Austin, a senior researcher at the Thurgood Marshall Institute, and Dr. Jevay Grooms, a microeconomist Assistant Professor with the Department of Economics at Howard University, with Michael Fletcher from ESPN’s Undefeated moderating.
If you enjoy cinema, tune in the day before on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. EST for The United States Vs. Billie Holiday Screening Discussion. NMAAHC Curator of Music and Performing Arts, Dr. Dwandalyn Reece will sit down with Academy Award-nominated director Lee Daniels, Grammy-nominated songstress Andra Day, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks for a panel discussion about the film and the legendary Billie Holiday.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration
While there are events that have passed, you can still enjoy them. Take, for example, NASA’s presentation: “The Power of African American Leadership in NASA.” While it happened on Feb. 10, you can still enjoy it on-demand through YouTube. The event featured a panel discussion of former and current African American leaders at NASA. Glenn Delgado, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Small Business Programs, served as the moderator.
According to NASA’s website, the event was sponsored by the following organizations: “the Black Employee Strategy Team at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, the African American Employee Resource Group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, the NASA Headquarters Chapter of Blacks In Government, and the NASA Headquarters African-American Coalition for Advocacy and Leadership.”
The panel will inspire viewers because, in addition to celebrating racial diversity, it also showed that leaders can have diverse personalities and backgrounds. Whether you are highly introverted or chasing a childhood dream, you can excel at whatever you pursue. A particular standout part was when Langley Research Center Director Clayton Turner said, “Be willing to share yourself…. You have to be willing to be open and, in some cases, vulnerable.”
The city of Boston will celebrate Black History Month as #Morethanamonth. Working with the Black Employee Network and the Boston Public Library (BPL), the city will provide an array of events and resources. There’s something for everyone, whether you want to read a book from the BPL’s Black is… Booklist or listen to the Legacy Builder Speaker Series to learn about financial empowerment regarding homebuying, life insurance, entrepreneurship, and retirement plans. (Research shows that the average net worth of white households in Boston equals over $247,500, and the average assets minus debt for Black households equals $8)
Similarly, the city of Santa Monica in California also has an eclectic line-up for Black History Month. So far, events have included Bingo with comediennes and Zumba. Upcoming events involve an Afro-Joy Dance Party with Tatiana Zamir and the 2nd annual Black Excellence Community Awards, which will celebrate the leadership and service of black professionals in the city.
New York City
According to the New York Public Library’s website, it will commemorate the month with “live online events and programs, blog posts, recommended reading, and a wide array of digital resources available to anyone with a library card.” In addition to those resources, the library will also host events, including Racism’s Hidden Cost with Heather McGhee on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. EST. During this discussion, McGhee, the former president of the inequality-focused think tank Demos and the author of “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” will explain how racism negatively affects all Americans financially.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Black history and excellence can still be celebrated from the comfort of your home. Attend these literary, cinematic, or historical events to learn more about America’s past, present, and future.
If you know of any government-sponsored events for Black History Month, let us know in the comments.