Celebrating Black History Month

February 1, 2021 | (47) Comments

It’s an honor to have the opportunity to share my thoughts with all of you. I’m proud to be representing On the Mark for Black History Month, and what a wonderful time it is to truly celebrate, respect, and learn about African American culture and our rich history here in the U.S.

Throughout history, Black men and women have had to fight to overcome adversity. In 2020, we saw reflections of history that we hoped we’d never see again—moments of division and injustice that created a desperate need for change. But what I’ve learned in my own life, is in order to make a change, we have to first look back.

Texas Children’s Hospital opened its doors in 1954, the same year the Civil Rights Movement began. As our organization and the wonderful men and women who worked within these walls were working to care for every child who needed us, there were countless children around the nation who were harmed or witnessed violence against their families, just because of the color of their skin.

When we look back at the history that is often the hardest to hear, we can see how far we have come as a nation and regain the hope that we will overcome again.

As former President Barack Obama said in a 2016 speech, Black History Month is “about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America. It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.”

As much as many want to forget the past, acknowledging and combatting the true heartbreak of racism is very much a part of Black History Month, and it’s essential that we remember and educate future generations so that history is not repeated.

As an African American woman, I am proud to know where I come from. I am proud to continuously learn about the trials my ancestors overcame. And I am proud to do all I can today to ensure their legacy never fades.

Although we have come so far, our work is not over. In the words of youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman:

“For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter.”

Just as Mr. Wallace said in his most recent blog, we as a nation have come so far in many regards. I myself beamed with pride as I watched Kamala Harris, our nation’s first African American South Asian woman be sworn in as Vice President last month. This is a moment we can all be proud of.

When we think about where we’ve been and where we want to be, just as those who came before us—we will write a new chapter, and we will overcome.

This Black History Month, I ask you to take some time and listen to the stories of the strength and perseverance of our history. Listen to music by Black artists or read a book about Black history. And remember that while the past can be hurtful, the best choice you can make is to learn from it, do better and make a change for tomorrow.

Michelle Riley-Brown
Executive Vice President

47 Responses to “Celebrating Black History Month”

  1. Sean Howard

    So grateful to not only be a proud African American woman myself but to also have been grateful to be a witness in this era to see the first African American and Asian decent woman become the Vice President of the United States of America. Just as you stated learning and not forgetting the past is the key. We still have a long road to travel and with perseverance and knowledge of the past and where we need to be in the future…We can do It and overcome.

  2. Angela Gooden

    There was a time not long ago when a significant number of Americans were not afforded the very opportunities we assume to be inalienable rights today. Thank you for your poignant reminder that we can reflect AND continue to move forward.

  3. Brittnie Wright

    Beautifully written Michelle! Although our history is painful, I am so incredibly honored to be apart of this community and proud of who we are, and the obstacles we have overcome! I stand on the shoulders of those who have come before me with courage, tenacity, strength, faith, and boldness and am afforded the opportunities and life I have now thanks to their sheer will and fight. I am eternally thankful! As a member of the millennial generation, I will do all that I can to continue to forge the next steps and strides for our community and our nation as we call out to those coming behind us. Praying fervently that we, like our ancestors, will foster a better world for us all! Happy Black History Month!

  4. Joy J Malbrough, PhD LMSW

    History indeed has her eyes on us. My daily endeavor is to make her and my ancestors proud (through word, through actionable service to others, and through the way live and lead).

    • Kristi Lemmert

      I can attest that you not only make your ancestors proud, you make us all proud through your wonderful leadership and kind heart. It is such an honor to call you my colleague and friend.

  5. Matt Timmons

    Fantastic- thank you for sharing. I am proud to have the opportunity to learn from you and your leadership on a daily basis! (…and I bet you can guess who’s music I will be listening to!)

  6. Denise Tanner-Brown

    Michelle,
    Such a beautifully written blog post. It articulates why black history month is so important. While we still have strides to make, it celebrates the journey of our great country and our quest to bring to life the statement in the Preamble, “In order to form a more perfect union…”. We are better together and learning about the trials and triumphs of so many African Americans in our nation, past and present, helps unify us.

    As I reflect on your blog post, the statement that brought the biggest smile to my face was…
    “As an African American woman, I am proud to know where I come from. I am proud to continuously learn about the trials my ancestors overcame”.

    Thank you for this message.

    Denise

  7. Eva Alcorn

    Beautifully said Ms. Michelle. I appreciate you sharing what Black History Month means to you and Mr. Wallace displaying the need to speak on Black History.

    It is important to America History, growth and stability. It’s a time to rejoice, celebrate and show gratitude to African Americans who’s given us hope and life lessons to live by. Maya Angelou said, ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. America knows better, without excuse, let’s do better, be better, love better, treat better, understand better and let us create better for our future generations.

    I am a proud African America Woman

  8. Michelle Burks-Walker

    Thanks for sharing! This was so beautiful!! Michelle was right when she said “while the past can be hurtful, the best choice you can make is to learn from it, do better.

  9. Michelle Burks-Walker

    Thanks for sharing! Michelle was right when she said “while the past can be hurtful, the best choice you can make is to learn from it, do better”. I truly believe in the end we will all learn to respect and learn from each other, and make this world better for all.

  10. Shannon McCord

    Beautifully written, and inspiring Michelle. Together, we can all learn from the past, and challenge ourselves to do better, and “find the power to author a new chapter” with equality, respect, kindness and healing for all people in our nation and across the world.

  11. Cassandra

    Michelle, this is so well stated. Black History month is a way for us to remember important people and events who have played and continue to play an important role in American History. Knowing our past opens the door for us to explore and pursue a great future. I’m so grateful Texas Children’s honors and celebrates Black History as take pride in the diversity that is evident in the culture and leadership here. Celebrating Black History creates an awareness for all people. “Black History is OUR History”. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, Michelle.

  12. Michelle,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on what Black History means to you, it definitely resonates with me as a proud African American women. I am forever grateful for our ancestors, without their wisdom, courage, actions and strength we would not exist today. This is a great reminder that together we can make such a powerful impact, we must continue to have the courage to forge ahead. I agree our work is not over!

  13. Jennifer Sanders

    Thank you for sharing your insights as we celebrate Black History month. Learning about and from the past is vital as we move forward. I love the reminder that this is the chapter that each of us writes, one where we are better together.

    • Betty Chatmon

      It is our differences that make us all unique, As people we should be the example of the change that we want to see and or feel. Do unto others what you would have them do to you
      For the time is always right to do the right thing.

  14. Latissah St. Julian

    Dr. Riley-Brown,
    Your article was so beautifully written and absolutely poignant. As an African American woman, I feel that Black History is a part of ALL Americans’ history. Though many of us were not here for most of the tribulations of our ancestors, we have all inherited the residuals of both their actions and inactions. Collectively, we all bear the responsibility of moving the needles of equality and unity a little further than the current measure. As One Amazing Team, we should learn from the past to prevent the repetition of past errors. I would challenge all non-African Americans to reach out to a colleague and learn something new about them. Our differences are what makes us all unique, but our diversity makes the whole team stronger. Happy Black History Month!

  15. Karen Sripan

    Thank you Michelle for you powerful perspective on Black History Month. While our journey continues, being open, honest, and accepting of our past and present gives us the strength and courage to learn from each other, see one another, and take action together. I have had the great fortune of being mentored by several amazing black leaders at this organization and am truly grateful for the stories they have shared with me and the lessons they have taught me. I would not have been blessed by these experiences in my career if it was not for the strides made by African Americans to fight for acceptance and equality.

  16. Jennifer Abernathy

    Michelle, this was so beautifully written and inspiring. Thank you for reminding us that Black History Month is not just about remembering the past, but it is also about applying the lessons learned from the past to be better in the future.

  17. Lamont L. Seltzer

    It’s been very inspiring over my short-time within the Texas Children’s Healthcare System to routinely Read and Genuinely witness and experience Diversity and Inclusion (at ALL Levels).

  18. Michelle Velasco

    Very well said. I was horrified by what I saw in 2020 and hope to never witness such tragedy again. We cannot change the past, but we sure can change the future. The world is a unique place full of many colors, cultures, morals, and values…it’s time to embrace the differences and create a safe place for everyone. Happy Black History Month!

  19. Daniel Gollins

    Michelle

    Thank you for sharing your powerful, insightful, and inspiriting thoughts with us. Proud to be part of an organization that makes diversity and inclusion a priority for not just our patients but our employees.

  20. Shannon Zerber

    Michelle – Thank you for sharing your thoughts as we begin our celebration of Black History Month. I am thankful for an organization that embraces and celebrates diversity and am excited about the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion journey we are on!

  21. Tarra Kerr

    Thank you for sharing – such a perfect and inspiring message to launch our celebration of Black History Month. It is a blessing and honor to work for an organization so committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. While we have come far, there is much work to do. It will take each and every one of us to continue on our journey of making change and modeling the way for generations to come.

  22. Jackie Ward

    Michelle
    Thank you for sharing this message. A message that every person can reflect on even if one one can’t relate to because of the differences in our lived experiences. A message that can inspire hope and a renewed sense of togetherness as a community. I am so proud of the strides being made – yet more work left to be done. But I am hopeful. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr in his iconic speech “I have a Dream”:

    “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. … I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

  23. Sheila Hall

    Thanks for the post! As a person of mixed background, I also love it when people take 4+ words to write out VP Kamala Harris’s race. Also, your kid picture on the back of Buzz Magazine is fantastic. I was excited to see that. Hope it can be a series.

  24. Reliza Jackson

    Michelle, many thanks for this month’s 2021 Black History Month article. It was enlightening and commemorative, allowing us to reflect on our heritage and African American’s history and review where we are today. There is the saying that if one views things from the rear, it is hard to move forward, while in some cases, that may be true; however, considering African Americans today, it is essential to remember the past to change the future.

  25. Alisha Lerch

    Thank you for your personal contribution to Black History on your Journey Madame EVP. I’ve always admired you and I beamed with pride as well to see Kamala Harris Inaugurated! Your perspective of the times were are in was very moving and hopeful.

  26. Virginia Tomlinson

    Thank you for these inspiring words, Michelle! I could not agree more about the importance of looking to the past to help shape and change our future behaviors. Beautifully written!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *