What Black History Month Means to Me


The theme of Black History Month 2021, “Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” explores the African diaspora and the spread of Black families across the United States.

While many prominent politicians and scholars have weighed in, as a member-led union we wanted to hear your thoughts. What follows are a few perspectives, which we’ll be sharing throughout February. Members interested in adding their insights to the conversation are encouraged to email us at bnash@seiu1000.org.

Now, to our members…

U.S. history makes no sense without African American history.  Whenever we think of Black history, we think of slavery, which had a profound impact on Black history. But that was not what Black history was all about.  

Black History to me is knowing the past so that you can open doors to the future.  Black history allows us to appreciate, respect, and celebrate the African-Americans that made contributions, achievements, and sacrifices for us to have what we have today. We celebrate our history and those who helped pave the way.  It gives us a chance to reflect and look at all the beautiful things that Black people have achieved even if they never got credit for it. 

Black history is a reminder to be proud of all the things that make us unique instead of being ashamed of the color of our skin.  Although racism is alive and well in today’s times, we still have to acknowledge that people died for us to have the liberty and justice we deserve.  It’s also an opportunity for people to learn more about the effects of racism and how to challenge negative stereotypes. 

Knowing our Black history will honor the past and inspire the future.

Tonya Bealey
Bargaining Unit 4 / DLC 724
African-American Committee Chair


Black History Month to me means taking the time to educate my family, friends, and myself about the achievements and struggles my African-American brothers and sisters went through for all people of color and serves as a reminder that we must stand side-by-side, hand-in-hand to end racism in our country!

Christina Calugcugan
Bargaining Unit 1 / DLC 724
Asian Pacific-Islander Chairperson


Black History Month occurs every February, which is also the birth month of President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, the two abolitionists that influenced Black history. The month is dedicated to celebrating achievements by African-American figures like Mr. Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and other iconic black leaders. Overall, it acknowledges the leading role of African-Americans in United States history.

However, I wonder if Black history’s celebration for a month is enough to dismiss the systemic racism, mass incarnations, inaccessible housing, and health disparity magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to celebrate Black lives throughout the entire year and dismantle systemic racism’s apparatus affecting African-Americans and other people of color. Last year with George Floyd’s death, the nation was compelled to witness the deliberate diminution of Black lives. Therefore, let us not forget to pay respect to all the Black lives lost from police brutality.

During Black History Month, let us take the opportunity to celebrate the diversity and commonality of our country and its people, and let us dream of a day where racial equity and inclusion are the larger society’s prevailing values. 

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
– Langston Hughes 

Bobby Dutta
Bargaining Unit 1 / DLC 762
Job Steward