If you aren’t able to attend today’s Morning Meeting, below you can find some of our Community Life Coordinator’s presentation.

Today is a special day because we’re here to talk about something amazing – Black History. Though Black history is important to recognize everyday, February is known nationally as Black History Month. This is a time when we honor the incredible achievements of Black people who have made our world a better place. Let’s learn and celebrate together! Black History Month began as a week-long celebration in 1926. Historian, scholar, and activist Carter G. Woodson wanted an opportunity to push back against the dominant cultural curriculum in schools. The week was a call to action and an invitation to change the way we think about learning. Woodson’s idea became a reality through the tireless work of Black educators, most of them women, as well as other community led organizations, like churches and social clubs.

Black History Month became official during the civil rights era in the 1960s and 70s, when it became clear that a week was not long enough. President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976. Since that year, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The theme for 2024 is, “African Americans and the Arts”. According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (or ASALH), “… African, Caribbean, and the Black American lived experience have been paramount in the fields of visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary and other forms of cultural expression.” While we must recognize and continue to learn and face the complex history of Black identity in the United States; we can also join in the celebration around this year’s theme. And so today, we will be paying special respect to contributions in the culinary and musical arts.

This week we will be warmed and nourished with soul food, born from a blend of West African, European, and Native American influences. Soul food brings us dishes like macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and cornbread. These dishes carry the taste of history, the preservation of cultural memory, and the way that sharing food is love.

There are several Black chefs and culinary artists who taught us the importance of traditional southern cuisine. One of the most famous is Edna Lewis. She worked to promote genuine southern dishes as a culinary art to be respected. Over her lifetime, she owned a famous restaurant in New York City, lectured at the American Museum of Natural History, and was one of the first Black women chefs to publish a cookbook that did not hide her true name, gender, or race. Today, everyone will get a chance to taste one of these classic recipes. So don’t forget to save room for dessert.

Black contributions to music have been extraordinary! In jazz, a genre that originated in the African American communities of New Orleans, legends like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington created timeless melodies that continue to echo through the years. Jazz is a genre that lets us feel the heartbeat of history through its soulful tunes. And then there’s hip hop, a genre that was born in the Bronx, New York, in the 1970s. Black artists like Grandmaster Flash laid the foundation for a culture that has become a global phenomenon. Today, artists like Kendrick Lamar continue to shape the world of hip hop, expressing the rhythm of life in their own unique ways. And let’s not forget the soulful tunes of R&B, where artists like Bill Withers have left an indelible mark. With classics like “Lean on Me,” Bill Withers’ music transcends generations, offering a comforting melody that unites us all.