As a part of celebrating Black History Month, the Summit Area YMCA invites all YMCA staff, volunteers, members and the community to join us in various activities to learn about the significance of Black History Month and important figures that pioneered the way for others today. Check our Summit Area YMCA social media platforms to learn fun facts and see how we honor historical black figures both in and outside of Y history, and how their contributions have molded the America we know today.
Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, also known as African-American History Month. Black History Month was first proposed by African-American educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State a year later, from January 2 to February 28, 1970.
Six years later, Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions and culture and community centers when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month in 1976, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."
According to History.com and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the Black History Month 2022 theme, “Black Health and Wellness,” explores "the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well."
Here at the Y, we practice healthy living and celebrate the achievements in health and wellness throughout the centuries in our daily work. With the knowledge and work by done by these medical and wellness practitioners throughout Black history, our healthcare and medical resources would not be as they are today.
Honoring African-American Figures and Educational Institutions
Every week in the month of February, learn about iconic leaders, activists, sports players, musicians, and inventors that set precedents in history and paved the way for an inclusive and diverse present and future. Read up and into dive into the accomplishments and achievements of these figures by going to our bulletin board on the 1st floor of the Summit YMCA near the Teen Center.
Arthur Ashe was a monumental figure in sports for African-American players. He became the first African-American male tennis player to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon singles titles with 3 Grand Slam wins. Additionally, Arthur was the first African American man to earn the No. 1 ranking in the world and the first to earn induction into the Tennis Hall of Fame.
Also known as the "Father of Black History", Carter Woodson is known to have started the lasting celebration and remembrance of black history during February. He also wrote many historical works, including the 1933 book The Miseducation of the Negro, which discussed the education system for African-American students. Woodson is the second African-American to receive a doctorate from Harvard, after W.E.B. Du Bois.
YMCA of the USA’s first Black President and CEO (2015-2021), Kevin Washington was one of the emerging leaders of color at Greater Philadelphia YMCA, YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago and YMCA of Greater Boston, where he expanded membership and access by reducing rates, increased diversity and engagement among the Board of Directors to better reflect the community and implemented a childhood-education quality initiative that benefited thousands of children and families throughout eastern Massachusetts.
In addition, explore Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and historically black fraternities & sororities in the United States on the 2nd floor. HBCUs were institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the intention of primarily serving the African-American community and were established to provide opportunities to African Americans and are largely responsible for establishing and expanding the African-American middle class.
The Y's Achievers program, a career and college preparation program that motivates and encourages young adults, had the opportunity to tour HBCUs in the past to teach our young leaders about the importance of black history and how to practice leadership, teamwork, and inclusion.
WE WEAR BLACK - February 25
The Y's African American Resource Network (AARN) cast a vision in 2020, as a response to the societal awakening to systemic racism, imploring all Ys to become anti-racist, multicultural organizations that intentionally lead and boldly model diverse and inclusive cultures that impact and strengthen the foundations of our communities.
We invite you to join us for We Wear Black on Friday, February 25th, 2022, to take a stand against injustice and racism in all forms. We Wear Black to bring awareness to systemic racism and oppression of Black people in the United States and around the globe.
Black History Month Information Table
Visit our Information Table in the Summit YMCA's front lobby and learn about unsung black heroes, African-American inventions, black leaders affiliated with the Y, and food from African-American culture each week throughout the month!
Front Desk Giveaway
Throughout the month of February, the Y will post black history trivia questions at the front desk. If a member or guest answers correct, you'll win a YMCA prize! Just visit the front desk at the Summit YMCA.
Tip: be sure to check out the information table and bulletin boards around the Y for clues to the answers, and better yet, you'll learn a lot about Black History Month!
Through welcoming, inclusive practices and environments, the Summit Area YMCA welcomes and engaged people from all diverse groups of the community to help and create lasting, meaningful change. We at the Y realize that in order to better the world around us and for the future, we must unite and work towards the strengthening of the individual in mind, body and spirit. So join us in celebrating and honoring Black History Month at the Y, in the community, and in your daily lives.
If you would like to get involved by volunteering, donating to a local cause, or to partner with the Summit Area YMCA for a new program or event, please contact Tiffany Escott, Summit Area YMCA - Mission Advancement and Development Director, at email@example.com.
Senior Youth & Teen Coordinator
Mission Advancement and Development Director
SUMMIT AREA YMCA
In 1886, we were founded as the Young Men's Christian Association, but today, we are The Y. An association that values, and is made stronger by, its diverse people. We stand for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility — For a better us. We are committed to creating equal opportunity for all regardless of gender, age, disability, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. We strive to create a welcoming and inclusive culture in which our four core values — responsibility, honesty, caring and respect — are integral to everyday operations.
Each year, as one of the area’s leading 501(c)3 charitable organizations, the Summit Area YMCA serves more than 15,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the New Jersey communities of Berkeley Heights, Gillette, Millburn, New Providence, Short Hills, Springfield, Stirling and Summit. Our history is rooted in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those in need.