What Black History Month Means to Me
By: Angelique Riley
My name is Angelique Riley, and I have been at Grane Hospice Care, King of Prussia (an Abode Healthcare and BrightSpring Health Services company), for a little over two and a half years. I joined Grane after spending twenty years managing Life Enrichment in Continuing Care Retirement Centers. Although I found Life Enrichment rewarding, it was time to hang up that hat and move on to another venture.
I chose to work in Hospice Care to share my natural gift of helping people during the most difficult time of their lives, and also sharing compassion, support, and a great deal of care with our patients. It is a great honor to be spotlighted in our employee newsletter and to share what Black History Month means to me.
What Black History Month Means to Angelique
Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African American History Month. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. Now that you have the Wikipedia definition of Black History Month; let me tell you what Black History Month really means…
Black History cannot be contained or limited to a single month. I grew up in a family where we honored and embraced our heritage year-round. My siblings and I were educated by our father on the rich history of African Americans. He taught us about inventors, writers, educators, musicians, and other notable Black figures.
It was important to my father that we had knowledge of our own history. We grew up as military children and were exposed to many different cultures and environments. My father prided himself in educating us on African American studies because he knew our schools and society, would more likely teach us an inaccurate version of our history, if they mentioned African Americans at all.
During Black History Month, American schools teach students about Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and the enslavement of African American people in the US. Those are important topics to cover, but that barely scrapes the surface of African American contributions to our society. Sparse lesson plans fail to mention the large numbers of African American scientists, physicians, attorneys, and professors who have made huge contributions to American progress.
A Personal Story
A quick funny story: When I was in World History Class my junior year in High School in Lawton, Oklahoma, the teacher presented a lecture about religion in the African American community. I remember cringing in my seat, my spirit stirred with frustration because the lesson was filled with errors about my history and my culture. I could not remain silent.
Each time that the teacher mispronounced a name, gave an inaccurate date, or worse, attributed an accomplishment to the wrong person, I spoke up and corrected him. After I contradicted him four or five times, the teacher grew so frustrated that he shouted,
“DO YOU WANT TO TEACH THE CLASS?”. I rose to my feet and said, “Yes, I do”.
It did not end well for me that day. I was sent to the office immediately and punished with an In-House Suspension. Despite the repercussions, I never regretted what I did.
My experience confirmed my father’s prediction that the school was not going to teach the proper information on African American History. Since my father took the time to teach me, I knew my history and had the conviction to share it with my peers.
I shared this story to illustrate the importance of teaching African American History and embracing it as an ongoing celebration in the African American Community. I am grateful to see schools, businesses and the community recognize Black History.
Black Is Love
The month of February is a time to honor our ancestors and their hidden or overlooked contributions. It is a time to reflect on the work still needed to be done.
Black History Month is a reminder that Black Is Love. I love being an African American woman and getting to reflect with others who are also proud to be African American. Black History Month is an invitation for others to join in the ongoing celebration of black excellence. It is unity in its highest form.