Black History Month Beyond February

As another Black History Month comes to a close, I encourage each of us to take a moment to reflect, especially this year as many individuals and institutions have pledged to do better. After all, we can always do better — all of us. Here are a few resources on Black speakers, authors, educators, and activists to learn from all year and for many years to come. Life gets away from us so easily, especially now with so much going on in our virtual and remote environments. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to dedicate time each week — even if just five minutes while drinking your morning coffee — to reflect, educate, and grow. 

Continue Doing the Work

Black History Month is meant to be a time to honor and acknowledge the many accomplishments made by Black Americans throughout our nation’s history. I’ve covered the origin of this historic month in a past post, but the truth is, it is not possible to include all of the history-makers and current-day change agents who have contributed in a mighty way to the fabric of American culture and Black history. Below, is a compiled list of seven people who I admire that have written books, founded organizations and foundations, created educational courses, and so much more to help this current generation continue down an anti-racist path. 

Amanda Gorman

If people weren’t familiar with Amanda Gorman’s work before, 2021 they sure know who she is now. Along with being the youngest inaugural poet in U.S History, Amanda is an award-winning writer, writing for the New York Times and three forthcoming books with Penguin Random House, not to mention being cum laude graduate of Harvard University. While Amanda isn’t the first poet to mark a presidential inauguration — being accompanied by Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco, she was faced with challenges that her predecessors hadn’t — not only were Americans dealing with a deadly pandemic but racial tensions, partisan division, and political violence occurring just weeks earlier at the Capitol Building weren’t exactly a “warm welcome.” Her poem of hope and collective purpose showcased the kind of reflection and subsequent change that needs to be made to truly heal in the future — acknowledging and taking ownership of the past while not losing sight of the hope to come. 

Nicole Cardoza

Nicole has become one of the most influential people in the wellness industry for her multi-disciplinary equity work — from being a TEDx speaker, named to the 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 list,  to being recognized by ABC as one of the “Top 10 Millennials Changing the World.” As the founder of Anti-Racism Daily, Reclamation Ventures, and Yoga Foster, Nicole has invested over $3 million in direct funding, programs, and other resources to close the wellness gap in communities that need it the most. Her work focuses on anti-racism, social impact, equity, and health at foundations such as the Aspen Institute, universities such as Harvard and MIT, and Fortune 500 companies, including Nike and Lululemon. 

To celebrate Black History Month, Anti-Racism Daily hosted “28 Days of Black History” via a daily or weekly newsletter. Year-round though, they produce a free daily newsletter and group/work subscriptions that include courses (including an anti-racism course for DEI) and speaking engagements.

Dr. Cornel West

Well-known as an intellectual heavyweight in the academic world, Dr. West is a philosopher and scholar of African American Studies, serving as Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. We were fortunate to host Dr. West at a UPMC event earlier this year. Dr. West is also a political activist, who hasn’t let his prestigious academic background come between participating in demonstrations or lending his name to causes he feels are just. Arguably his best-known work, Race Matters analyzes moral authority and racial debates concerning skin color in the United States, being published a year following the start of riots in Los Angeles that were sparked by the acquittal of four white policemen on charges of aggravated assault in the beating of Rodney King, an African American motorist. He has written a total of 20 books, along with editing 13, with several books analyzing issues of race, class, and justice tied with philosophy. 

Glo Atanmo

Many people know Glo from her Instagram account @glographics, where she shares incredibly beautiful and informative carousel posts to, as she puts it in her bio, “lift the weight off heavy topics.” Gloria Atanmo is an online educator and content creator in the travel space, starting her career as a blogger where she landed features in Forbes, Oprah Magazine, Conde Nast, Essence, Buzzfeed, and more. In addition to running her Instagram page full of free educational pieces, Glo offers an incredible Ally Resource Guide with over 80 pages of stories, resources, conversation starters, journal prompts, videos, and personal anecdotes about how you can unpack your internal bias and be a better ally for the Black community.

Rachel Cargle

Rachel is an academic, writer, and lecturer who often shares her expertise within the intersection of race and womanhood. She is the creator of The Great Unlearn Course, hosted via Pateron providing resources and critical discourse to aid in unlearning. Rachel is also the founder and President of The Loveland Foundation Inc., a non-profit committed to showing up for communities of color, prioritizing opportunity, validation, and healing, with a particular focus on Black women and girls. Since its inception, the organization has offered hundreds of hours of free therapy to Black women and girls. 

Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma is the New York Times bestselling author of “So You Want To Talk About Race” and has been named in 2021 Time100 Next, which recognizes those who are “poised to make history,”  though many already have. Iljeoma’s work focuses on race and identity, feminism, mental health, and more. Her next book, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America, is available now. She’s also written many powerful pieces and has been a guest on shows such as The Establishment, The Guardian, The Daily Show, The Stranger, New York Times, Hazlitt, Matter, and others which you can find here. 

Ibram X. Kendi

Ibram is the #1 New York Times bestselling author whose works include “The Black Campus Movement,” “Stamped From The Beginning,” and “How To Be An Antiracist.” He is also the Founding Director of The Antiracist Research & Policy Center.  In 2020, he was named in Time: The 100 Most Influential People. Fun fact —Ibram wrote Illjeoma’s Time100 Next feature mentioned above. 

And this listing barely scratches the surface. Check out this page for a longer list of books to read on race, as well as this list of Ted Talks to help one gain a deeper understanding of racism. 

It’s A Life Practice 

Learning about Black History shouldn’t only occur during one month out of the year. Like anything in life, anti-racism isn’t something we can “check off” once we’ve “mastered” it. It takes constant education and practice, year-round, for life.