As we begin celebrating Black History Month, we are mindful of the current situation in Memphis and the continued impact events such as this have on the Black community across the country, including colleagues within the Varsity Brands family. To our black co-workers, we are here to support you. To allies, please be sensitive to the fact that people are hurting and processing these events in very different ways.
Now more than ever, we should use Black History Month as an opportunity to educate ourselves on journeys that may be different than our own in order to be better teammates, friends and business partners and help us on our collective journey toward an inclusive environment for everyone.
The origins of Black History month can be traced back to 1926 when Carter Woodson and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History sponsored Negro History week in the second week of February – coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. President Gerald Ford was the first US President to officially recognize Black History Month in 1976. The month is an opportunity to recognize the history, culture and contributions of Black Americans while taking time to reflect on the past and look forward to a more just future.
The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) has chosen the theme Black Resistance for Black History Month in 2023, focusing on the efforts of Black Americans who have fought against racial inequality – an endeavor that continues today. Since the end of the Civil War, numerous milestones have occurred in the struggle for racial justice, including the passage of the 14th and 15th amendments to the US Constitution, which provided for equal protection for people who had been enslaved and guaranteed the right of citizens right to vote regardless of race or color. Additionally, Supreme Court cases like Brown vs. The Board of Education acknowledged that “separate but equal” in education and other services was anything but equal. Despite this progress, inequities continued to exist and led to more focused efforts, including the creation of the NAACP in 1909, the Montgomery Bus Boycott of the 1950s, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Recent activities such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests surrounding the deaths of George Floyd and others reflect the fact that inequities still exist today.
Samantha Jones | CAD Designer, Herff Jones