In 1976 Gerald Ford officially declared February, ‘Black History Month’ in order to pay recognition to the too-often neglected accomplishments of African-Americans. Each year we celebrate this month with a different theme and 2012’s theme pays tribute to the ways in which women have shaped the United States and its history. So we’d like to take a minute to honor a few women who have done some wonderful things to help do just that.
Wife of the late Jackie Robinson, Mrs. Robinson founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation in 1973, which is an amazing not-for-profit organization promoting the advancement of higher education among underserved populations. The foundation provides millions of dollars in scholarship aid; boasts a nearly 100% graduation rate and has helped over 1,400 students and in 2009, Mrs. Robinson received the UCLA Medal for her lifetime achievements. The UCLA Medal honors individuals who’ve made extraordinary and distinguished contributions to their professions; higher education; our society and to the people of UCLA.
Etta began as a gospel prodigy—singing in church and on the radio at the age of 5—and went on to become one of the most renowned American singers. Born Jamesetta Hawkins, Etta garnered a plethora of awards throughout her career (including six Grammys) and went on to be inducted into Rock & Roll; Blues; and Grammy Halls of Fame. Unfortunately Etta passed away last month after a battle with leukemia but her legacy will never be forgotten.
As the first African-American First Lady, Michele has assumed a vital position as a role model for women and an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition and healthy eating. She created the Let’s Move campaign— a comprehensive initiative dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.
As Americans, we should be proud of where we are today but should also recognize that it we are only where we are today because of those before us. These women, along with many African-Americans have shaped—and continue to shape our lives and our futures for the better.