Black History Month: Uplifting Women

This year, we are honoring Black History Month by sharing the stories of both contemporary and historical figures who are changing the course of history. The ways in which we teach our history have often left out the full story. By uplifting these individuals and their work, we hope to add to the fullness of our history and shift the narratives to include the pioneers across all walks of life whose contributions help us imagine a better world.

Angie Thomas

Award-Winning and Acclaimed Author of The Hate U Give and Former Teenage Rapper

Mandatory Credit: Photo by MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock (9915517e)
Angie Thomas
‘The Hate You Give’ film premiere, New York, USA – 04 Oct 2018

“Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed.

Angie is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, started as a senior project in college.”- Angie Thomas’ Website

In an interview for Ebony, Thomas shared that one of her professors encouraged her to share more from her experience:

“There are stories there that need to be told and heard, and there are voices there that have been silenced. And if you want to, you can have the opportunity to give those voices a platform through your writing. Give those stories some visibility.- One-on-One with ‘The Hate U Give’ Novelist Angie Thomas (Ebony).

This opened the doors for her project, which eventually became her first novel. Thomas has now published a second novel and a third is coming out this year.

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Dr. Joy DeGruy

Nationally and Internationally Renowned Researcher and Educator

Dr. DeGruy’s seminal book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing (Uptone Press, 2005) has shifted the way we think about intergenerational trauma as a result of chattel slavery.

“While African Americans managed to emerge from chattel slavery and the oppressive decades that followed with great strength and resiliency, they did not emerge unscathed,” writes DeGruy. “Slavery produced centuries of physical, psychological and spiritual injury.”

“Dr. DeGruy’s research focuses on the intersection of racism, trauma, violence and American chattel slavery. She has over thirty years of practical experience as a professional in the field of social work. She conducts workshops and trainings in the areas of intergenerational/historical trauma, mental health, social justice, improvement strategies and evidence based model development.”- Dr. Joy DeGruy’s website.

Dr. Joy DeGruy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication, a master’s degree in Social Work (MSW), a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Social Work Research.

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Andrea Manning, Khristen Hamilton, Mikaela Hutchinson, and Zero Hour

Over the past few years, Andrea Manning, Khristen Hamilton, Mikaela Hutchinson, and their organization Zero Hour have emerged as leaders in the growing youth-led climate movement.

“The mission of Zero Hour is to center the voices of diverse youth in the conversation around climate and environmental justice. Zero Hour is a youth-led movement creating entry points, training, and resources for new young activists and organizers (and adults who support our vision) wanting to take concrete action around climate change. Together, we are a movement of unstoppable youth organizing to protect our rights and access to the natural resources and a clean, safe, and healthy environment that will ensure a livable future where we not just survive, but flourish.”- The Zero Hour website.

Andrea Manning – Deputy Music Director

“Andrea Manning grew up hearing about climate change. However, for years she thought the problem seemed remote. When it came up in school the focus was always on ice caps and polar bears. As an African American high schooler living near Atlanta, Georgia, these concerns felt far from Manning’s lived reality.

Then, during her senior year of high school in 2018, a friend asked Manning to help organize a climate march as part of Zero Hour’s first major day of action. Had it been about polar bears, she likely would have passed on the invitation. But when she realized the organization put a strong emphasis on marginalized people, she became intrigued.

Andrea Manning is now a student at the University of Georgia and part of the Zero Hour executive team. (Zero Hour)

‘I saw how climate change affects real communities and racial justice,’ Manning said. ‘Zero Hour’s message is about the importance of a livable future, but also people on the frontline being affected by fossil fuel development today.’”- How Generation Z is leading the climate movement (Washington Nonviolence).

Mikaela Hutchinson – Volunteer Outreach Deputy Director

“I am fighting the climate crisis because no one else will. The youth have been forced into this crisis because the very people that are supposed to protect us, are betraying us and have shown countless times they do not care. There needs to be a revolution to save the human race from mass extinction. That is why I am fighting”- Zero Hour Facebook Page.

Khristen Hamilton – Volunteer Management Director

Khristen Hamilton has been with Zero hour for about three years. “The current pandemic has Hamilton musing on the connections and comparisons between the COVID-19 epidemic and the climate crisis. ‘I absolutely see parallels between the climate crisis and the pandemic. COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting black and brown communities more. The coronavirus is affecting disabled communities, the working class and POC [persons of color] more. We see the same thing with the climate crisis where POC, the working class, and people that are disabled are being affected the most from climate change.’

Ultimately, Hamilton would like to see climate change mobilization that’s on par with the pandemic response. ‘The country has done a lot to try and stop this global health pandemic, but they haven’t addressed the climate crisis with the same urgency.’Why she says this is necessary in relation to the climate crisis, ‘It will take lives if we do nothing.’”- These 4 Teens Are Saving the Planet (And They Aren’t Greta Thunberg) (Parentology).

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Written By Sarah Rosenthal

Sarah Rosenthal is a Community Engagement program manager at B’nai Jeshurun, working on both the Aviv 20s and 30s programming and the Jewish Home Project. She is committed to building community (vi...