Happy Black History Month! One of my favorite months in the year. This Black History Month I want to take the time to highlight some of my favorite influential Black people that have made amazing strides in the community and who have inspired me on a journey of higher education, advocacy, and self-awareness.
Katherine Kennedy, also known as KK or Ms.Kennedy, is a Boston native and for the last 18 years served as Director for the Howard Thurman Center of Common Ground at Boston University. I met Ms.Kennedy in 2017 when I was in search of a community on the Boston University campus. I remember entering the HTC one random day and I introduced myself by my nickname, and she said to me “Young lady, now what is your actual name, because I know that is not the one your mother gave you.” From that day forward, Ms.Kennedy became one of my favorite faculty members at Boston University. Before her time at BU, she started her career as a journalist for the Boston Globe where she served on the team that received the 1975 Pulitzer prize for Meritorious Public Service for reporting on the Boston busing crisis of 1974. She was then recruited to the University of California Berkeley, where she established the minority journalism program. After her time with Cal Berkeley, she worked for the NFL and the New England Patriots where she piloted a degree program for active players. Ms. Kennedy showed me the meaning of being an active community member.
Stacy Abrams is a Black American politician, lawyer, and author who served on the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017. She is mostly known for her work in advocating for the best voting rights practices. She is the founder of Fair Fight Action, whose primary goal is to promote fair elections across the country, encourage voter participation in elections, and educate voters about elections and their voting rights. Abrams is one of the reasons I became interested in voting rights and how voting is not as accessible as we think it is. Abrams helped me understand the true meaning of my vote and why voting amongst the people of the global majority is important so that we are able to amplify our voices and make sure our needs are met. Thank you, Stacey Abrams, please keep fighting!
Ms. Unbought and Unbossed herself! Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected into Congress in 1968, where she represented New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms. Before joining Congress, Chisholm worked for the New York’s State Assembley. Chisholm gave us the best piece of advice yet, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Chisholm was a trailblazer, she was a force to be reckoned with, and she would never back down from a fight, especially when it regarded basic human rights, healthcare, minimum wage, and education. She taught me to never give up, to always fight for what I believed in, and that my knowledge is a tool that could always be utilized for the greater good. Without Chisholm, women like Stacey Abrams, Kamala Harris, and many more would not be in the positions of power they are in today. Thank you, Shirley Chisholm for leading the pack; we are truly grateful for the doors you have opened for Black women in politics.