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DEI Events: Black History Month

This blog post is part of the Informed K12 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion event and education series. We take our commitment to DEI very seriously and want to make sure that we are gathering feedback from our DEI Council on all our blog posts. Because of this, blogs may be posted a while past the date of the initial event or announcement of the initiative. 


February in the United States is Black History Month and we wanted to do something to celebrate and commemorate this month. We decided to host a presentation highlighting different voices that have been historically unheard in the Civil Rights movement. For these voices, we focused on Claudette Colvin and the Black Panther Party. 

Overview: Why are we doing this event now? Why should we be talking about this as a tech company?

First and foremost, we want to focus on discussing race as a company because Black and LatinX people are significantly underrepresented in tech, making up only 7% and 8% of the workforce respectively (vs 14% and 28% of the US population)

We believe that company should reflect the demographics of the US and our clients. Tech is shaping the world, and as the industry itself proclaims, “Software is eating the world.” But if that software is developed by people who don’t reflect our society, the software cannot truly represent the needs of all people. Being in EdTech and a company that cares about more equitable educational institutions, we must also have an understanding that the education system does not provide equitable outcomes for Black and Latinx students. 

Our goal in focusing on Black History Month and specially voices that went unheard in the Civil Rights movement is to highlight that this history is present and not a monolith.

What did we do for this event?

For this event, the D&I Council created a presentation that provided an overview of Black History Month, heard an interview from Claudette Colvin and highlighted the Black Panther’s Health and Wellness programs.

Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin: The 15-year-old who came before Rosa Parks

Born in Montgomery, AL on September 5, 1939, Claudette Colvin was arrested at age 15 for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus to a white woman, more than 9 months before Rosa Parks’ famous refusal in the same city.

Black Panther Party

Health Justice For All: The Unknown Legacy of the Black Panther Party

Black History Month 2022 is themed health and wellness. We’ve found that during most teachings about Black History Month, there is a lack of depth into the work of the Black Panther Party. During this time, we watched a quick video discussing the Black Panther Party's commitment to providing healthcare to their communities.

These are only two stories that we shared during our session. We want to emphasize and stress that there are so many more stories of folks who worked tirelessly to fight for equal rights during the Civil Rights movement as well as who continue to fight today. By amplifying these voices we hope to encourage more research and understanding into this topic filled with diverse, unique voices. 

What personal stories from the team emerged? Are there any quotes that can be shared?

Please see the anonymous quotes from our employees below: 

In reading John Lewis' memoir "Walk with the wind" last year, I was struck by how long-suffering and organized the civil rights movement participants and organizations were and how much brutality and even murders for so long they faced before they got ANYONE's attention. My impression from my public school education about the civil rights movement was that it was a much easier, more peaceful, faster process: MLK Jr and Rosa Parks organized a few events, boycotts, marches and then the civil rights act was passed, done! Very sad that the narrative erased all the suffering of so many other heroes.”

“I learned pretty much all of what I know about Black History when I finally got to college. I cannot recall anything specifically being taught at school about Black history that wasn't tied to a broader movement (like the Civil Rights movement) and even those topics were taught from a very high-level viewpoint, focusing on the broader achievements vs. the details of the events/people.”

“In my K-12 education, I would say that the extent of what I learned was basic facts and figures. I would also add that repeated years of US history would always start from Christopher Columbus at the start of the year and end with World War 2 by June.  In later years, I learned that my high school divided US History into 2 years so I would hope times have changed and more discussion included as to the broader realities of the Black experience here in America. In college I took a course titled, "The Black Community and Social Change".  Loved the course and the professor.  Only then did I learn about the Black Wall Street of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  As far as my learnings, I feel humbled by so many younger than me who are challenging the status quo in ways I was too afraid to do in the past.  I would only hope to be an ally to them now.”

What are we going to do after this event? What’s next?

We have created a single document that includes information to celebrate Black History, creators, artists, scientists and activists. This is a living document where people can continue to add in resources they’ve found to share with the company. We hope that this document and these resources will inspire folks to learn more and get interested in different Black History and current history topics. 




Source: What You Don't Know About The Black Panthers | AJ+