Statement by NOW President Christian F. Nunes
WASHINGTON–Black History Month has been observed, in various forms, since 1926, when the Black historian and journalist Carter G. Woodson pushed for a celebration of Black Americans to ensure that school children were exposed to Black history that went beyond stories of racism and slavery to spotlight Black achievement.
The group Woodson founded, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), each year establishes a theme for Black History Month.
This year’s theme is “Black Resistance: Building Bridges and Navigating Barriers.” Black resistance has filled streets with protesters, withstood horrific violence and intimidation, and led to sacrifices that put activists in jail—or worse. We remember and honor those who died in the fight for racial equality during Black History Month, as we work to continue their legacy. From Kizzmekia Corbett, who’s credited as being the key scientist behind the COVID-19 vaccine and Daniel Hale Williams, who performed the first open-heart surgery in 1893, Black trailblazers have left an enduring legacy. And today, the growing representation in Congress, and of course, the vice presidency, advances our goal of a truly representative and diverse politics.
NOW also joins this month’s observances with two special events, NOW’s annual Racial Justice Summit and a Black Mental Health Summit we’re convening in partnership with the Bottom-Up Foundation and BLD PWR, titled “Healing is Resistance: A Restorative Path to Mental Wellness.”
These are ways that NOW members are both continuing acts of resistance and also navigating barriers to progress.
The theme for this year’s Racial Justice Summit is “Tackling Jim and Jane Crow through Law,” and will feature engaging discussions on the insidious effects of voter suppression, removing barriers to BIPOC wealth, and raising awareness of missing sisters and loved ones. We must work tirelessly to push back on those who seek to halt our progress through sustained attacks on voting rights, critical race theory, and more.
Our Mental Health Forum will be moderated by “Make it Plain” on-air host, Rev. Mark Thompson, and will feature an intimate and truthful conversation about how mental health is examined in the Black community and how we must repair it. Intersections of oppression, individual and societal pressures exacerbate mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD in our lives and families.
While we observe and learn from the lessons of Black History Month, we know that Black history is something we make every day.
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The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the nation’s leading membership-based advocacy group dedicated to defending women’s rights, advancing equality and combating injustice in all aspects of social, political and economic life. Through educating, mobilizing, and convening a vast network of grassroots activists across the country, NOW advocates for national, state and local policies that promote an anti-racist and intersectional feminist agenda. Since its founding in 1966, NOW has been on the frontlines of nearly every major advancement for women’s rights and continues to champion progressive values today. More about NOW’s efforts and resources is available at NOW.org.