APB Speakers Commemorating Black History Month 2020
28 Jan 2020
February is Black History Month, and this year’s theme is “African Americans and the Vote” in honor of the centennial of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote, and the sesquicentennial of the 15th amendment, which granted black men the right to vote. Voting is the foundational promise of true democracy and our APB speakers Ilyasah Shabazz, Melissa Harris-Perry, Andrew Gillum and Admiral Michelle Howard have all fought tirelessly to realize the vision of justice, equality and freedom for our country. During this Black History Month, they all provide perspective on how far we have come and how far we have left to go:
A professor, author and daughter of Malcolm X, Ilyasah Shabazz has continued her father’s legacy in devoting her life to fighting for justice and equality. As she says, “until we have a serious discussion, racism will continue to occur.”
Author, political commentator and the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University Melissa Harris-Perry works to diversify journalism and make higher education a more accessible space for people of every race and class background. She also founded the Anna Julia Cooper Center on the mission of advancing justice through intersectionality in academia.
Andrew Gillum made headlines and history in 2016 as Florida’s first black gubernatorial nominee. As the former mayor of Tallahassee, Gillum has been answering the call of public service through the inspiration of his idol Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He works to serve others and pursue justice at every turn, from protesting affirmative action rollbacks as a college student to championing restorative justice programs as city commissioner.
Another boundary-breaker is Admiral Michelle Howard, who was not only the first woman to become a 4-star admiral and the first woman to get the second highest rank in the Navy, but also the first African-American woman to reach a 3 or 4 star rank in any U.S. armed services capacity and the first African-American woman to command a Naval ship. Howard’s secret weapon for success in any realm, even including a high-intensity ship hijacking? Diversity!
Speaking on topics ranging from continuing the legacy and lessons of MLK to creating more diverse and inclusive spaces for everyone, our Black History Month speakers continue to inspire and empower! As we reflect during February, we would do well to keep Harris-Perry's important words in mind: “This is the imperfect fabric of our nation, at times we’ve torn and stained it, and at other moments, we mend and repair it. But it’s ours, all of it. The imperialism, the genocide, the slavery, also the liberation and hope and the deeply American belief that our best days are still ahead of us.”
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