Counsel, Strategic Outreach and Policy Partnership
Growing up, Black history lessons in school were limited to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington Carver and Harriet Tubman. It wasn’t until I found my local public library-and with guidance from friendly librarians-that I began to understand the full breadth and depth of the impact of Africans in America. As a little Black girl growing up in white suburban Maryland, these lessons at the library, reinforced by conversations with my parents, were necessary to shaping a healthy identity as a Black woman.
As I studied my history, I learned that Harriet Tubman overcame her small stature and birth into slavery as, not only a brilliant conductor on the Underground Railroad, but a strategist who led the first military maneuver executed by an American woman. I learned that Jesse Owens overcame his childhood as a sickly sharecropper’s son to become an Olympic gold medalist. I learned that Black Americans in the South left what was familiar to migrate by the millions toward opportunity in the North, Midwest and West Coast. And I fell in love with the poems of Langston Hughes, who articulated the pain and the beauty of the Black experience in words that perfectly expressed what I had-until then-only felt.