Black History Month is a time dedicated to reflecting and publicly thanking Black Americans who have gone before us - recognizing their great achievements and their strength and perseverance in standing up for what is right. While our celebration will look a bit different this year, there will, as always, be thoughtful, fun, and interesting ways to connect, learn, and share.
Our theme this year is "Lifting Our Voices - Celebrating Community, Culture, and Change." It may feel like an odd time for celebration, with all of the racial and political turmoil swirling around us, but the challenges of this past year have reminded me, encouraged me even, to find the celebration wherever I can.
I celebrate the community of care so many of you have helped to create for your peers and for the people we serve as this country combats the dueling pandemics of COVID-19 and police brutality.
I celebrate the triumph of culture the world witnessed as Black Americans again challenged structural racism, perpetual inequity, and systematic voter suppression, fighting to make this country's founding ideals of liberty, justice, and equality true.
I celebrate the wave of change being ushered in, with the swearing in of the first Black woman vice president of the United States and the most diverse cabinet this country has ever seen. I know representation is not enough, but it is one, conscious and important step in hopefully righting generations of wrongs.
Please join me as we recognize and honor the contributions of community, culture, and change made by Black people in Illinois and around the world. From activists to teachers to scientists to artists, we celebrate Black leaders who have altered the course of our world for the better.
Throughout the month,we will hear from some of those leaders, and we hope to hear from you, too. Additionally, we will applaud the diversity within the Black community, salute historically Black colleges and universities, and recognize the contributions of Black sororities and fraternities.
Please be on the lookout for information on how you can engage with us...the Black History Month committee and the Office of Strategy, Equity, and Transformation will be sharing more about the events of the month...we hope you join us.
Black History Month matters. Celebrating and studying Black History is part of American History. It is critical to understanding our progress as a nation, to recommitting ourselves, and to our leadership in celebrating and effecting positive change to make the world a better place for all. It is time to realize that the recognition of our history shouldn't be limited to one month but celebrated year-round. I hope that you will join me in doing so.
Grace B. Hou