Since 1976, February has been nationally deemed Black History Month, but the celebration of Black history goes back much further than that. In 1926, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), founded by Carter Woodson and Jesse Moorland, sponsored a “Negro History Week” choosing the second week of February in honor of Frederick Douglass’ birthday. It was a small but resilient movement that gained popularity each year.
Flash forward 30 years and the civil rights activists of the ’60s inspired a larger movement. Before the end of the decade, “Negro History Week” was well on its way to becoming Black History Month as young African Americans on college campuses began to bring attention to Black history that had been skipped over in textbooks.
Soon after, President Gerald Ford officially recognized the month with the theme “America for All Americans” and every president since has followed precedent.
The theme of this year’s month was “Black Resistance” which was chosen to honor the “Black people that had to consistently push the United States to live up to its ideals of freedom, liberty and justice for all,” the ASALH said in a statement on their official website. Historically and today in the 21st century, Black people have worked a political angle to seek their rightful space in the country. When race is concerned, legislative action has often come late. The Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act were concessions to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Black history is American history and teaching it is imperative to better understanding the history of this country.
Marian’s Diversity Board has sponsored events throughout February such as the Donuts for Diversity meeting that was held on Feb. 5. The guest speaker was Carina Glover ’07, founder and CEO of HerHeadquarters.
HerHeadquarters allows women-owned businesses and their teams to secure their dream collaborations and network. Glover spoke about the struggles she experienced in the beginnings of her entreprenuerial career and continues to face now.
In the beginnings of her career, she decided to hold a launch party for her previous media company. Glover spent a lot of time setting it up, getting it catered and inviting people to her party, but unfortunately no one showed up. Glover called the party her “biggest failure, but a lesson she needed to learn.”
Glover took the lessons she learned from her failed launch party with her to start HerHeadquarters. Since then, HerHeadquarters has become a venture-backed company, receiving awards and recognition from Congress, American Express, Forbes, Cheddar, Harper’s Bazaar and many more.
Marian’s mission statement, “to provide a Catholic college preparatory education for young women, to empower students to discover and develop their talents, and to inspire them to lead and serve as women of faith and compassion,” serves to inspire all women, but it especially inspired alum Ty O’Neal Nared ’12. “That’s always something that has stuck with me,” Nared said. “I was heavily involved in Speech and I will say prior to Speech, I was not confident speaking in front of people, but Speech gave me the confidence that I needed to feel bold in a room and to really command my audience’s attention,” Nared said, reflecting on her time at Marian. Nared made her mark on the Omaha community by founding Meraki Montessori Toys with her husband during the beginnings of the pandemic.
“I really got into the Montessori philosophy and applied it at home. I was just showing my husband some of the toys that were on the market and how they weren’t as diverse and how they weren’t very cost effective for everyday working families. So he got some wood and I just started practicing making toys and so we just both started learning woodworking together, and started prototyping toys. And finally, we said, ‘let’s create Muraki Montessori to be eco-friendly, diverse and sustainable,’” Nared said.
“As a woman of color, you know, there are certain boundaries that I face in my entrepreneurial life and then in my professional life… I feel I always have to prove myself,” Nared said on being a Black woman in business while also juggling parenting. Nared’s daughter, Adele, is her pride and joy. “I definitely want her to be confident… a lot of what I learned at Marian and from my mom, I definitely implement with my daughter,” Nared said. “I want my daughter to know it is okay to be who she is, in the skin she’s in.”
Black people have achieved progress and triumphs because of resistance. This year’s theme is especially timely because of the political deviciveness seen in every American’s life. Examples of resistance are seen in the end of slavery, dismantling of Jim Crow segregation, increased political representation in local, state and national government, desegregation of educational institutions, the ratification of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the opening and dedication of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History in Washington D.C. and increased diverse representation of Black experiences and identity in media. Black resistance strategies have served this country as a model for every other social movement.
The legacy and importance of these actions cannot be understated. This is a call to everyone to study the history of Black Americans’ responses to establish safe spaces where Black life can be sustained, fortified and respected.