Celebrating Black History Month

Celebrating Black History Month

The Board of Directors and staff of IFR are proud to recognize Black History Month. We could choose from the many incredible Black leaders throughout history that have withstood the test of time. However, so much Black history has been made over the last year that we will focus on equally incredible Black individuals and organizations who are making history today.

It took over 200 years for this country to elect the first Black president. It took another 12 years before the first Black woman, Kamala Harris, was elected as Vice-President. We understand the need for true representation from those who have walked in your path, who know its hazards, and are committed to repair them. Far beyond being purely symbolic, we understand why children and adults alike need to see leaders who look like us; it is a powerful visual reminder that we bring value and belong everywhere.

We DO belong everywhere, including the arts, which is why the incredible talent of Amanda Gorman, the country's youngest poet laureate blew us all away. Reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb” at the presidential inauguration left tingles on numerous arms nationwide. If you are black, in the arts, a young person, or one who believes in change, Ms. Gorman reminded us of what creative vision for change looks like. We at IFR honor her amazing talent and purpose.

There are many Black individuals, including Black Latinxs, who have shown visionary leadership in their own ways and respective fields. However, we also want to recognize group leadership and the tremendous community organizing that has taken place over the last few years. In fact, the advances of one such group could (and should) be recognized for the next several years – that’s how powerful their impact has been.

Of course, we refer to Black Lives Matter. Initiated by three Black women who are also strong community organizers – Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi – Black Lives Matter arose when the police and non-police unnecessarily shot and killed Black people and were never held accountable. The movement continued to gain attention, spreading throughout the country to the point that it is now part of a significant national dialogue. Public agencies, businesses, and individuals all are more aware of institutional racism than ever before.

Nevertheless, this struggle is far from over. White nationalism is on the rise and efforts to derail the validity of BLM's continue. However, the Black community has made great strides in its community organizing capacity. The Black community understood exactly what was at stake in the recent elections. Despite significant voter suppression strategies, snow, rain, and cold temperatures in some states, and, oh yes, a pandemic, the Black community came out like never before, ensuring #45 would be a one-term president.

Many disrespected these accomplishments as one-offs that could not be replicated, and certainly wouldn’t be successful in a red state such as Georgia. With the indefatigable political savvy of Stacey Abrams, the Black community stood tall, taking individual responsibility to heart, understanding that Georgia’s vote had the potential to change the Congressional majority, and voted – not for just one candidate, but both! – for candidates that expressed support for their issues and needs.

Consequently, it's no surprise to us that both Black Lives Matter AND Stacey Abrams have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. They are both worthy of such an honor of distinction.

IFR intends to do its part to meaningfully contribute to the many issues and conversations related to anti-blackness. Eradicating anti-blackness is a responsibility we all share. We are committed to supporting, expanding our understanding, and promoting equity and collaboration around blackness issues in the Latinx community and with the Black community. 

We applaud Black History Month because we know that, in reality, the opportunity to highlight such victories come far and few between. Nonetheless, through history to present times, we honor the Black community’s continued road to justice, empowerment and freedom of cultural expression. The Latinx community is honored to walk that path in solidarity with you. 

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