February: Celebrating Diversity

by MEGAN BRINKWORTH '16


Slavery, the Underground Railroad, the Thirteenth Amendment, the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., President Barack Obama. All these people and events have contributed to the history of African Americans. Since 1976, February has been the designated month to celebrate this history. It’s great that we, as a nation, have specific months and days to commemorate special people and events essential to the development of our country. But, African-American history is so important, it’s recognized, celebrated, and remembered all year. Nothing has shaped America more than the struggles faced by people of any race yearning for justice. African-Americans fighting for freedom and justice have impacted social, political, and economic structures not only in our country but around the world.

African-American History Month began in 1976, but the idea of it started in 1926. Carter G. Woodson, a historian, author, and journalist, initiated Negro History Week, a celebration similar to what we have today. This was the second week in February, specifically so that it would overlap with Abraham Lincoln’s and Frederick Douglass’s birthdays. Today, Woodson is often known as the “Father of Black History.”

The population of African Americans in the United States has also grown. In 1926, when the idea of celebrating Black History started, the African-American population was just under 10% in America. Today, 14% of the United States population is African-American. (http://blackdemographics.com/population/).

Many local organizations are celebrating and promoting the history of African-Americans. Kroger stores are participating in honoring the achievements in categories of film and entertainment.Displays are on view to costumers so they can remember the importance of African-American history in their lives while grocery shopping. Also, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County are featuring programs that commemorate the lives and journeys of African-Americans. Through speakers and an exhibit the Library is honoring the contributions of African-Americans to our country. As much as there is a need to celebrate African-American History Month locally, diversity is just as important. Diversity is essential to the making of our country and our community.

Diversity, by definition, means variety, the state or fact of being different. Diversity at SUA means students and staff from all social, racial, religious, and economic backgrounds come together as one community. Students who attend St. Ursula Academy come from over 70 various public and private middle schools. Our centrally located campus makes it accessible for students from all around the area to attend SUA. As Mr. Maliborski mentioned in the SUA Parent Bulletin while welcoming the class of 2018: “One of the strengths of St. Ursula is the diversity of students from all parts of Greater Cincinnati.” This reinforces the importance of diversity as a core value at SUA that originated with St. Angela Merici, who insisted on love and respect for every individual.

Director of Diversity at SUA, Ms. O’Neal, feels that diversity enables students to recognize the unique qualities in each individual. Our community is continually being enhanced by diversity, not only racial, but also ethnic, geographical, and economic. Ms. O’Neal says the first step in recognizing and accepting other’s diversity is celebrating our own cultural identity. To realize that American culture has been so affected and impacted by other cultures is also part to celebrating the differences in our society.

SUA also sees diversity in bringing young women together who differ not only racially, but also economically, religiously, and geographically. And it is another element to a student’s four-year journey that makes St. Ursula Academy unique and helps bring about women thinkers, leaders, nurturers, and prophets.