What Does Black History Month Mean to You?


As we celebrate Black History Month throughout February, it’s important to acknowledge its origins. That begins with a group known today as the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH), who first sponsored a National Negro History week in 1926. They reportedly chose the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

Today, we’re working to rewrite history by gathering the power necessary to create social, economic, environmental, and racial justice for our members and ALL Californians, but we need your help to ensure all our voices are heard. So, be sure to let us know what Black History Month means to you at communications@seiu1000.org

In the meantime, here’s some more insight from your fellow brothers and sisters.

February is Black History Month! Why does a Filipino in the United States care about Black History Month? Well, the Philippines was a colony of the U.S. The U.S. established an insular government to rule the Philippines, modeling it after the U.S. government. This included the establishment of a public school system that modeled the U.S. system.

Volunteer U.S. soldiers were the first teachers, building classrooms where they were. In June 1901, a group of teachers went to the Philippines on the ship “Sheridan” and in August 1901, 600 teachers called the “Thomasites” went aboard the USS Thomas. One of the supervisors was Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History”. By 1902, 1,074 teachers were stationed in the Philippines, teaching in English and teaching about American history, in an effort to spread American cultural values. By the time Woodson ended his stint as a supervisor in 1907, his direct participation and observation in the U.S. miseducation process in the Philippines had informed his understanding of the miseducation of Black communities in the U.S.

In 1933, Woodson published “The Mis-Education of the Negro”. In 1959, Renato Constantino, inspired by Woodson’s work, published “The Miseducation of the Filipino”. And in 1998, Lauryn Hill released “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” in reference to Woodson’s original work. This is a hallmark inspiration for all of us to forge greater solidarity as we escalate our multinational and multiracial peoples’ resistance against white supremacist violence and U.S. imperialism. Therefore, lets join our brothers and sisters in the struggle for freedom and autonomy. Black history is Filipino-American history is U.S. history.

Bobby Dalton G. Roy
Bargaining Unit 21 Vice Chair
District Labor Council 764

Black History Month is a time to reflect on the sacrifices, struggles, and accomplishments of those who came before us. It’s also a time to dream about the progress and transformation possible when we work together collectively. Because our ancestors fought so hard to bring about real meaningful change, we honor them every day by continuing the fight toward racial and socio-economic equality. 

Jerome Washington
President, DLC 749

For me, there are a few cultures that do have a month to celebrate. Blacks, Asian-Pacific, Latins, and Native Americans all rejoice in our proud heritage by enjoying and celebrating our history.   

Yes, we are reminded every day of our struggles and social injustice, but for the month of February, let’s celebrate Black History Month for the many accomplishments and contributions made by those who came before us and to those who are making strides for our future.   

Francina Stevenson
Chair – Native Americans of SEIU Local 1000 
DLC 794 President