Black History Month: A Statement from Dr. Johnson

A Statement on Black History from Dr. Phedonia Johnson

Seeing Transformation in Our Youth

During Black History Month, we generally consider the lives of those who have made great contributions and review the events and periods that have brought positive changes to our lives, communities, and nations. We must continue to present these accomplishments to our young people. For if we don't know how we got to this point, we may make some unnecessary mistakes now and in the future. I recommend that we begin 2024 Black History Month by studying our families. Knowing one's own family history is centering, inspirational, and empowering.

Black History, Family History

Additionally, researching, studying, and sharing one's family history about and in the context of Black History is vital to enriching the correctness and fulfillment of our nation's history. Generally, studying family history begins with oneself, followed by parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles. Also, interviewing the oldest member of the family (if possible) is key. There is a dearth of information online, in libraries, and with black genealogy organizations on how to begin and free forms to record your documentation.

Inspirations for Study

The TV show Tracing Your Roots (PBS) with Dr. Henry Louis Gates is an inspiration for tracing family history. In earlier times, Black History was kept from us, contributing to our children's and families' feelings of low self-esteem. Yet, today, we know that we have one of the richest histories of people on planet Earth.

I pray that as we include the study of our own families during Black History Month, the transformation will occur in how our young people see themselves. There will be a sense of responsibility for all of us in teaching Black History to succeeding generations.