Black Health and Wellness is the theme for February 2022.
By Chasity Jennings-Nuñez
Every year since 1928, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History has designated a Black History Month theme. The intention of the theme is not to limit discussion, but to provide an area of focus for exploration and celebration. This year’s theme, Black Health and Wellness, intends to acknowledge the “legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners, but also other ways of knowing (e.g. birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well.”
Black health has been the focus of discussion, even more in the last two years, as the Covid pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Black Americans. The pandemic has shined a glaring light on deficiencies and racial bias in the health care system and how social factors play a significant role in the physical and mental wellbeing of communities. Decades of research show that Black and Native Americans are at the bottom of almost every health and wellness indicator from infant and maternal mortality to access to safe drinking water and sanitation. In addition to challenges to health and well-being, this year’s theme also highlights the resilience of Black people; the many and varied contributions of Black doctors, researchers and scientists; and the ongoing contribution of Black people to holistic approaches to care and wellness.
Why is Black History Month in February? February is a significant month in the history of African-Americans. Frederick Douglas, former slave, abolitionist and Statesmen and Abraham Lincoln, 16th President and author of the Emancipation Proclamation, were both born in this month. Dr. Carter Woodson, who founded the ASAALH in 1915, stressed that acknowledging Black History should not be limited to one week out of the year, but is a life-long education. In 1976, President Gerald Ford provided for the first official national recognition of Black History Month and in 1986 Congress passed a joint resolution designating the month of February as National Black History Month.
- For the second year, safety concerns and COVID restrictions have canceled many of the in-person Black History Month events. For over 38 years, Pasadena‘s Black History Month Parade and Festival has been a highly anticipated celebration of Black culture, particularly for Black residents in the SGV area. This year there will be no parade, but the Pasadena Parks and Recreation Department is offering a virtual selection of programming for youth and adults.
- Pasadena Museum of History has a wide variety of activities to celebrate Black History Month. Here are some highlights:
1- Oral History Interviews with African American Residents of Pasadena.
2- Glimpses of the Black Community in Pasadena, 1900-1950 (video).
3- Community Histories: The Black History Collection.
4- Give Us a Flag: African American Civil War Soldiers.
- The Altadena Library District honors and celebrates the work, accomplishments, and lives of African Americans, both past and present, who are making, or have made, a significant impact on or contribution to Altadena and the local community. The first highlight goes to Bob Lucas: A Black Gladiator of Literacy.
- For the second year after establishing its Human Equity, Access and Relations Commission (HEAR), San Gabriel’s City Council proclaimed the start of Black History Month at the February 1, 2022 meeting.
- The San Gabriel Library is highlighting African American authors and books with a display as well as links to other LA County library virtual events. Speaking about the importance of the city recognizing the month, Councilmember Denise Menchaca said, “Black History Month is an opportunity to highlight and pay tribute to Black achievements and stories that are part of our American History. At a local level, it’s a way to honor those who have contributed positively to the collective experience of our community.”
Editor’s Note: The San Gabriel Education Foundation highlighted the contributions of Dr. Chasity Jennings-Nunez, a San Gabriel resident, Black OB/Gyn and chair of the HEAR Commission.
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