It’s almost February, which means it’s almost Black History Month!
Black History Month is an important observation of the revolutionary works black people have contributed to the United States’ history. Within this celebratory month, it’s important to remember that the struggle for racial justice is far from over.
Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, and refugees still face unique oppression. For many immigrants and refugees, the intersection of racism, class, and gender create obstacles to living freely. Global Cleveland’s ‘Welcoming’ mission is to create a welcoming region that is a place of opportunity and prosperity for people of all racial, ethnic, and international backgrounds.
In my role as Welcoming Coordinator I am very cognizant of the importance of including the African American community in the integration of immigrants and refugees. One of Global Cleveland’s Welcoming Initiatives is our African American Advisory Board. This group of African American community leaders meets to develop strategies that improve the quality of living for African Americans, while retaining our region’s rich heritage. We recognize that if Cleveland residents do not feel welcomed in the community it will be challenging to ensure that immigrants and refugees will feel welcomed. It is our desire to create a community that is a place of equitable opportunities and outcomes for everyone. By building alliances with the African American community it is our desire to do just this.
This Black History Month we celebrate the contributions of courageous trailblazers in the black community who were immigrants:
- Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in the United States Congress and the both the first woman and the first Black American to seek the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party was born in Brooklyn, NY to Caribbean parents.
- Marcus Garvey, noted Pan Africanist and mass movement organizer and Founder of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was born in Jamaica, migrating to the U.S. in 1916.
- Kwame Toure (formerly known as Stokely Carmichael) political organizer and activist leader with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and later the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
Author Tia Oso eloquently wrote, “Often we obscure our immigrant backgrounds as we fight for social justice, leading to an oversimplified idea of what it means to be Black and making it seem as if the interests of Black Americans and immigrants are not connected. This is far from true.” The struggle for racial justice and migrant rights remain at the forefront of Global Cleveland’s work and we will continue work with the community to find solutions to both issues.
We are proud to support Black History Month and we honor the contributions of African Americans, Native African-Americans, and other immigrants from the Diaspora.