CHA Employees Highlight What Black History Month Means to Them

Manoucheca Lord, Resident Services

“BHM, to me, means the world can take the much needed time to research, reflect, acknowledge and celebrate that BLACK people are, educated, leaders, innovators, visionaries, and so much more. Black people are a great example of what resilience and triumph look like. It’s an opportunity to stay connected and build a relationship through a mutual understanding that though we don’t look alike, we are still human and are capable of the same greatness.”

-Manoucheca Lord

Michael Johnston, Executive Director

“Black History Month is an awkward and embarrassing reminder about how selective our educational system is in this country and how we must do better.”

-Michael Johnston

Ayesha Wilson, Resident Services

“What Black history means to me is being aware of, mourning the loss of, and celebrating all of the trials and tribulations that black people have giving their lives to. Whether alive or passed on, Black History is American history, and we must not ever forget that Black people weren’t asked to be here. We were stolen, and continue to fight just to be seen as equals. We Matter! Black History should be honored, respected, and celebrated 365 days of the year, not just one month!”

-Ayesha Wilson

Robert Kelsey, Human Resources

“Black History Month is an opportunity for America to be intentional about recognizing the countless contributions to society and indeed to the whole world made by black folk. It is a chance for us to stand amazed at the creativity, brilliance, and acumen for innovation of a people so often caricatured by the trauma and beauty of our collective history. It is at this moment that we must be wary of the pitfalls of exceptionalism while honoring the spirit that makes black people exceptional, too. It is a time to say “Thank you” to those trailblazers who trod the “stony road” to show humanity the way and to thank God, and the ancestors, for the future that is ahead.”

-Robert Kelsey

Elka Uchman, Resident Services

“To me, Black History Month encompasses not just remembering, not just celebrating, but mainstreaming our Black brothers’ and sisters’ proud stories of achievements and resilience to oppression into the very core of our country’s narrative. It is a time we recognize significant contributions, injustices, and resilience of individual and collective Black lives that form our world’s and country’s tapestry. A time of pausing and honoring. It requires us to go outside our limited perception of our American story and see it for its incompleteness – its unrecorded Black voices and undervalued Black stories in our history that were penned by the dominant voice. It is a declaration for us to own our country’s past and present unmet promises and to decisively act to promote equality, Black pride and achievements, and inclusion. It is a month that I hope in the arch of time, will outlive itself. So we can progress to the day when it is no longer a month reserved for this purpose, but an integral and living embodiment of our country’s founding promise of equality for all.”

-Elka Uchman

Othieno Gordon, Leased Housing

“To me, Black History month is a time of year to celebrate culture.  Reflecting and remembering the countless sacrifices made by our ancestors. Embracing our customs, faith, belief, religion, food, art and music. Looking back through history helps me to appreciate where we are today. It also helps me to keep praying for a better tomorrow. A world where all humans can live in peace and harmony.”

-Othieno Gordon

Hannah Bolcome, Leased Housing

“A time to listen, learn, recognize, and celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of people who identify as black. Beyond learning about the more well-known black figures that we may have studied in school… I appreciate learning more about my black colleagues, friends, and their families. As well as having opportunities to learn about (and participate in) traditions and cultural events that are important and meaningful to them. It strengthens my connection to them and helps us to understand one another and work better together – which ultimately helps us to better serve our clients and communities.”

-Hannah Bolcome

Monique Rowling, Leased Housing

“28 days is not merely enough time to celebrate the history of us Black Americans… and why are we given the shortest month of the year? This country needs to put more effort into educating our youth AND adults on the history of black America. WE are part of the history of the way the country was built.”

-Monique Rowling