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Happy Black History Month: An Ongoing Celebration (02/01/21)

Feb. 1, 2021

Black History Month is an annual celebration of the achievements by Black Americans and a time to recognize their critical role in the history of the United States. The idea, developed by historian Carter G. Woodson, started as “Negro History Week” and eventually grew into a month-long celebration.

The month of February is not meant to be the only time we celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans, but rather an intentional time to highlight, promote, and reflect on their contributions. Black History Month takes us beyond the teachings of slavery and bondage; it allows us to observe the complexities of the lives of Black Americans. From revolution to emancipation, and civil rights to Black Lives Matter, the story of Black people in the U.S. is a story of beating the odds, fighting for justice, and the pursuit of the American Dream.

As I reflect on the contributions made by Black Americans, I am reminded of key figures within our own community who currently serve as firsts: David Maxwell, the first Black principal at Valley High School; Lonnie Dafney, the first Black woman to serve on the WDMCS Board of Education; and Renee Hardman, the first Black councilwoman for the City of West Des Moines.

At WDMCS, we have so much to be thankful for and so many to celebrate. Throughout this month, please join us in highlighting, appreciating, and honoring the history of Black Americans — near and far, past, present, and future!

Thank you,

Anthony Ferguson, Jr., Ed.D.
Executive Director for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity

Dr. Ferguson’s Top 10 Favorite Firsts in Black History

  1. Alexander G. Clark, Jr.: the first Black student to graduate from the University of Iowa.
  2. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.: the first intercollegiate historically Black Greek-lettered fraternity.
  3. Andrea Jenkins: the first openly transgender Black woman elected to public office in the U.S.
  4. Barack Obama: the 44th President of the United States and first Black President.
  5. Black Entertainment Television: the first Black-controlled TV company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
  6. Gwendolyn Brooks: the first Black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1950.
  7. Jackie Robinson: the first Black baseball player in Major League Baseball.
  8. Kamala Harris: the 49th Vice President of the United States and first Black and first woman Vice President.
  9. Oprah Winfrey: the first Black woman billionaire in the world.
  10. Thurgood Marshall: the first Black Supreme Court Justice.

Black History Month 2021: An Ongoing Celebration

Black History Month is an annual celebration of the achievements of Black Americans and a time to recognize their critical role in the history of the United States. Watch for posts each week that highlight and honor the history of Black Americans and our own Black community members. 

Black History Month is not meant to be the only time we celebrate the accomplishments of Black people in the U.S. WDMCS invites you to join us in making the celebration and reflection associated with this month ongoing.