This year for Black History Month HelloBeautiful is taking a new approach–to not only look to the past, but celebrate those making Black history in real-time.
We want to celebrate the accomplishments and victories of those who don’t stand in the limelight, but deserve the same acclaim. Each Friday during the month of February we will start the morning off honoring small and major victories made during the week. So if you see someone in your city or local community making Black history, let us know so that we can feature them on Friday’s.
Let’s continue to lift each other up and relish in the fact that we are the living realization of our ancestor’s dreams. Here are some great Black History moments that you may have missed this week.
1. Do you know the name Hanif Johnson? Here’s why you should.
The 27-year-old is the youngest person to be elected as the youngest district judge in Pennsylvania’s history. On Election Day 2017, Johnson won the Dauphin County Magisterial District, where he hopes to evoke change for the majority Black community in which he represents.
After watching Donald Trump win in the 2016 election, the Penn State graduate said he was inspired to run for office.
“When you sit back, and you see Donald Trump become president, and you hear about all of these things we are being affected by, it seems like everything happens through the court system,” Johnson said in an interview with HuffPost. “Everybody always says, well, we complain about stuff, but we never get up and do anything. This is me getting up and doing something.”
Previous encounters with law enforcement made him privy to understand how economics and lack of opportunities can lead to a life of crime. But his new role, Johnson hopes to use his position as one of compassion. His story proves that with determination and persistence we can all be agents of change.
2. Maame Biney & Erin Jackson are making Winter Olympics history.
Maame Biney and Erin Jackson made history last year when both women qualified for Team USA’s speed skating team at the Olympic Trials in December. At 18, Biney became the first Black women to make the team for short-track speed skating, while Jackson, a long-track skater, followed weeks later.
At 17-years-old, Biney is also the youngest member of the team and is finishing her last year of high school online in order to train and participate in the games. After moving to the U.S. from Ghana at the age of five, her father enrolled her in figure skating–but Biney proved to be too fast for the sport and soon found her home in the field of speed skating.
Jackson, 25, began her career in inline roller skating where she won numerous awards and medals as a decorated athlete. However, Jackson only began training in the sport five months ago with hopes to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics. After a stunning feat at the Milwaukee trials, Jackson definitely set the tone in her sport. She will be the first African-American woman to compete in long-track skating.
The opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics will take place on Friday, February 9. On February 16, all eyes will be set on the two as their competition begins in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
3. ‘Black Lives Matter Week of Action’ celebrated across the U.S.
Did you know that from February 5-10, at least 25 school systems will participate with a variety of planned activities? Enacted for the first time last year by a group of Philadelphia educators, the curriculum takes place during the first week of Black History Month. Schools in Pennsylvania, California and Maryland have signed on to particpate. Tomorrow marks the last day of the observance, but let’s hope that this lights a spark to foster a curriculum plan in all 50 states. You can read more about the initiative here.
4. Keep watch on Chicago’s North Side Aldermanic elections.
As 2018 nears closer to midterm elections, several races have emerged as ones to watch in the coming months. Chicago’s North Side will see two Black candidates vying for two separate alderman slots in an attempt for a more progressive, inclusive city.
Maria Hadden is running for the alderman spot in the 49th ward over Democrat Joe Moore who has held a city council seat since 1991. If Hadden wins, she will be the first Black queer woman to hold public office in Chicago.
Ugo Okere is a 21-year-old student at Loyola University, who is campaigning for an alderman seat in the city’s 40th ward. Okere is also a Nigerian immigrant who is running on the Democratic Socialist ticket. He aims to amplify the voices of the disenfranchised.
5. Three Black women are running for city office in Gainsville, Florida.
For the first time in almost 20 years, three Black women have decided to place their name on the ballot in the city council elections. According to The Independent Florida Alligator, all three qualified after registering to run before the registering deadline of February 2.
Gail Johnson, Gigi Simmons and Tyra “Ty Loudd” Edwards, are taking action into their own hands and challenging two long time incumbents. Johnson, 40, is going up against Harvey Budd for the At-Large Seat 1, while Simmons and Edwards are running against Charles Goston for District Seat 1.
All three women are mothers, entrepreneurs and longtime Gainsville residents who hope to bring more diversity to the city council. The city election will take place on March 20.
6. Charleston Fire Department recognizes city’s Black firefighters.
In honor of Black history month, the Charleston Fire Department is using their Facebook page to pay homage to the city’s forgotten Black firefighters. According to the department, the two main fire houses in the downtown area were manned by Black firefighters up until the department was integrated in the 1970’s.
“February is Black History Month and in recognition of that our #TBTs throughout the month, as well as other posts, will feature photos and stories of the African American firefighters who have so honorably served the CFD over the years,” the department’s post states.
7. Yakima Valley College cancels Rachel Dolezal’s speaking appearance.
While this isn’t a particular moment of history it’s still important because we’re always here for the calling out of Dolezal’s tired three-year long parade. While we’re scratching our heads at why she’s still being invited to speak at institutes of higher education, we applaud the students at Washington’s Yakima Valley College who used their voices to shut it down.
No. Not during Black History Month sis.