To honor Black History Month, YouthCare’s Cultural Impact Committee (CIC) invited YouthCare staff to share their reflections on Black and Brown excellence through people, events, art, and experiences that inspire them. We’re so excited to share this collection of reflections with you.
As you read, please remember it’s important to honor Black and Brown voices all year long. As Saint, a YouthCare staff and member of our CIC team, said: “Celebrating Blackness and our history is a 24/7 thing.”
Audre Lorde, writer & activist
“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.” –Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992) described herself as a “black lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Her works and activism confronted the intersecting oppressions and injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia—and in particular, the experiences of women of color.
For a list of Audre’s works, please check out this list here.
Thanks to YouthCare staff member Jason for this contribution.
Larry Gossett, activist & King County Councilmember
Political activist Larry Gossett was born Lawrence Edward Gossett on February 21, 1945, in Seattle, Washington. A local legend, Larry was a former Black Panther and a longtime civil rights leader. He serves as a member and chair of the King County Council and has strong ties to the Hispanic, Asian and Native American communities.
In 1996, Gossett fought to change the symbol of King County (Seattle) from 19th-century slaveholder, Rufus Devane King to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Read more about Larry and his impact on The History Makers.
Thanks to YouthCare staff member Linzy for this contribution.
Art: Hiawatha & Iconic Black Women
Check out the Northwest African American Museum before March 15, and you will have the pleasure of seeing Hiawatha D.’s artwork. He is a local artist with a current exhibit called “Iconic Black Women.” It’s a powerful display of Black women from history to current times, each with her own influence and power.
“Black women have always been on the frontline of every movement for civil rights, equality, freedom and social justice.” – Hiawatha D.
YouthCare staff member Randi reflects on the exhibit, below:
“I found this exhibit extremely inspiring and humbling. It brought tears to my eyes as I walked my baby girl through the room of such important women. One piece, in particular, made me stop in my tracks. That piece is called “10:22” – a portrayal of the four little Black girls who were murdered in the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in 1963. I found myself just stunned to be reminded about those girls, in such a colorful display, with so much potential, and their futures stolen from them.
It was breathtaking to see so many powerful girls and women in one room, along with so much history, hardship, triumph, and healing.”
Thanks to YouthCare staff member Randi for this contribution.
Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly
Kendrick Lamar is an American rapper, songwriter, and record producer. He is regarded by many as one of the most important and influential rappers of our generation. His third studio album titled, To Pimp a Butterfly, is an honest interpretation of Black politics and music.
YouthCare staff member Saint shares his thoughts on Kendrick’s album:
“It is important to highlight different aspects of Black and Brown excellence, so as a big music head I decided to highlight a contemporary classic album that touches on various Black issues in the wake of conflict. This album was dropped during times where police brutality was more visible. The album is seen as “a capsule of American Political turmoil at the peak of police brutality…and the Black Lives Matter movement” (Shrewsberry).
For me, this album highlights how black folks are using music as a form of social discourse to highlight pressing issues.”
Here, I will leave you with a quote from the song Complexion off his album:
“The new James Bond gon’ be black as me
Black as brown, hazelnut, cinnamon, black tea
And it’s all beautiful to me
Call your brothers magnificent, call all the sisters queens” (Rapsody)
Thanks to YouthCare staff member Saint for this contribution.
Ruling: Loving V. Virginia – November 1963
Loving v. Virginia was a Supreme Court case that struck down state laws banning interracial marriage in the United States. The plaintiffs in the case were Richard and Mildred Loving, a White man and Black woman whose marriage was deemed illegal according to Virginia state law. With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Lovings appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously that so-called “anti-miscegenation” statutes were unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. The decision is often cited as a watershed moment in the dismantling of “Jim Crow” race laws.
Loving v. Virginia is considered one of the most significant legal decisions of the civil rights era. By declaring Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ended prohibitions on interracial marriage and dealt a major blow to segregation.
Despite the court’s decision, however, some states were slow to alter their laws. The last state to officially accept the ruling was Alabama, which only removed an anti-miscegenation statute from its state constitution in 2000. In addition to its implications for interracial marriage, Loving v. Virginia was also invoked in subsequent court cases concerning same-sex marriage.
Read more here.
Check out these films:
Thanks to YouthCare staff member Linzy for this contribution.
Phyllis Jackson, Black Panther Party Member & Professor
Phyllis Jackson grew up in Tacoma before joining the party at the national headquarters. She served as a communications secretary and ran a voter-registration campaign. She is now an associate professor of art history at Pomona College, teaching the arts and cinema of Africa and the African diaspora.
YouthCare staff member Agueda reflects on how Phyllis influenced her life:
“I wanted to highlight one of my college professors, Phyllis Jackson, for Black History Month. She is without a doubt the most influential intellectual figure in my life. She transformed the way I understood systems of power and pushed me and my fellow classmates toward liberation frameworks – highlighting and analyzing the incredible contributions of Black and African people to knowledge-production, art, and revolution. In doing so, she helped make it possible for us to imagine what she called a “beautiful black-loving world”, one in which every single one of us is more liberated.
Long before she was my professor, though, she was an integral part of the Black Panther Party – at one point a communications secretary at their national headquarters. While her platform and strategies for liberation may be different than they were in her time with the BPP, she has nonetheless remained a revolutionary.”
Thanks to YouthCare staff member Agueda for this contribution.
Chef Edouardo Jordan, owner of JuneBaby, Salare, & Lucinda Grain Bar
Chef Edourado is a local chef featured in many magazines, shows, articles, and books. His culinary accomplishments beautifully integrate his experiences growing up in the South, as someone who has experienced homelessness, and as a Black chef in a White-dominated industry.
Speaking of his Southern restaurant, JuneBaby:
“I had an opportunity to embrace who I am and the food I grew up on and tell a story that’s been missing. It was a chance for me to have a big voice for my food, for its history, for chefs who are similar to me and act like me and talk like me and came from the same places that I came from. I understand the significance of this restaurant and what I’m doing.”
In addition to his many culinary awards and accolades, Chef Edouardo has served meals at the Orion Center, prepares meals for families during the holidays, and continues to raise awareness about the intersectionality of race, history, and food.
Experience Chef Edouardo Jordan’s food:
Thanks to YouthCare staff member Anjali for this contribution.
Michelle Obama, writer, lawyer, & former First Lady of the United States
Michelle Obama is a lawyer and writer who was the First Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She is the wife of the 44th U.S. president, Barack Obama and she was the first African American First Lady of the United States. As first lady, Michelle focused her attention on social issues such as poverty, healthy living, and education.
On January 13, 2017, Michelle made her final speech as first lady at the White House, saying “being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life and I hope I’ve made you proud.”
In an emotional moment, she addressed young Americans:
“I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong. So don’t be afraid. You hear me, young people? Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourself with a good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise. Lead by example with hope; never fear.”
Thanks to YouthCare staff member Estefania for this contribution.
Dr. Angela Davis, activist & scholar
Through her activism throughout many decades, Dr. Angela Davis has been deeply involved in our nation’s pursuit of social justice. Much of Angela Davis’ work has centered on dismantling the prison industrial complex and the intersectionality of feminism in civil rights movements. She has authored over ten books on class, feminism, and the U.S. prison system. Her work is influenced by her own experiences in the early seventies as a prisoner who spent eighteen months in jail and on trial and was labeled a “dangerous terrorist” by Richard Nixon. She was acquitted and this gave rise to the Free Angela Davis movement.
YouthCare staff member Cole reflects on Dr. Angela Davis’s life and legacy:
“When I begin to think about Black Power, Black Intellectualism, and Black Radical Tradition, one of the first people that comes to mind is Dr. Angela Davis. She is of the same generation as my grandmother, and they actually grew up in the same neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama, yet I never had the opportunity to learn about her until I got to college. My take on the reasoning behind that is a combination of my miseducation in the public-school system and her being described as a black feminist, militant, and communist, so naturally, she has largely been omitted, outside of brief reference, in our schools. Yet, she is one of the most prominent civil rights activists of her generation.
Her views on achieving racial equality and equity are deeply radical, but so conscious. In The Black Power Mixtape, when asked about violence as a tactic for organizations such as the Black Panther Party, she states, “… when someone asks me about violence, I just find it incredible. Because what it means is that the person who is asking that question, have no idea what black people have gone through, what black people have experienced in this country since the time the first black person was kidnapped from the shores of Africa.”
Thanks to YouthCare staff member Cole for this contribution.
A heartfelt thank you to our Cultural Impact Committee and our staff for sharing reflections and building community at YouthCare.