As we enter Black History Month, we have another opportunity to honor the achievements of our fellow Americans - especially those that are often overlooked. You all know how important this is to me to in particular, as these pioneers made it possible for me to be where I am and do what I do each day.
Countless creative and courageous movements have taken place throughout history, yet we are often unaware of the very real people behind them. This February, I want to steer our focus towards Black achievements that are often forgotten. Thank you all for joining me in this symbol of respect, representation, and pride in a culture that created so many positive outcomes.
Let’s begin with an incredible woman who worked hard to build peace, and break prejudice, Jane Bolin.
Jane Bolin: Jane Bolin became the nation's first Black female judge in 1939, and, besides dealing with domestic cases, she worked to stop probation officers from getting assignments based on the color of their skin.
Next, a man who fought for peace, even when it seemed impossible.
In 1950, Dr. Ralph Bunche was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his successful mediation of a ceasefire between four Arab nations and the State of Israel— the first time that all parties in the conflict ever signed armistice agreements with Israel.
These are just a couple of examples of the highly influential Black figures that have had a deep impact on our country. Each of us comes in contact with things invented by Black Americans everyday. Here are a few examples:
Mobile communication: In 1887, Granville T. Woods invented the induction telegraph, which allowed train-to-train and train-to-station communication, preventing many rail accidents.
The gas mask: Invented by Garrett Morgan in 1912, the gas mask saved thousands of soldiers’ lives during World War I, when poisonous gas was first used as a weapon. If that weren’t enough, he also invented the modern traffic signal.
The light bulb – Edison may have invented the concept, but Lewis Latimer added the carbon filament that made light bulbs last longer, and available for commercial distribution.
Open-heart surgery – Daniel Hale Williams established the Provident Hospital and Training School Association in Chicago, insisting on the highest standards concerning sanitary conditions. In 1893, he performed the first open-heart surgery, which was also the first time a chest cavity had ever been opened without the patient dying of an infection.
The blood bank – Dr. Charles Drew invented a technique for the long-term preservation of blood plasma. Prior to his discovery, blood could only be stored for two days. Dr. Drew also discovered that everyone has the same type of plasma, regardless of blood type, making plasma transfusions universal.
I hope this helps us remember how saturated our history is with the influence and inspiration of the Black community. This month means a lot to me, and I will continue to celebrate any opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the advancements Black men and women have brought to the table.
Again, thank you so much for standing with me in support of my community, celebrating Black History in February, and moving forward.