In 1915, Carter G. Woodson, a Harvard-trained historian, co-founded an association that focused on promoting the achievements of Black Americans.1 In 1926, this association began to spread its celebrations over a week in February.2
Over time this weeklong celebration evolved into a monthlong event in February across the US, officially being recognized as Black Heritage Month in 1976. Black History Month became the official name for the celebration in the UK in 19873 and in Canada in 1995.4
Foresters Financial™ is proud to spotlight the tremendous work a few of our members are doing to recognize and celebrate Black History Month within their communities.
Our members in action during Black History Month
Emmanuel Lumanze – Arlington, Texas, US
Since becoming a Foresters member in 2007, Emmanuel has done a few Community Grants. One of his most recent giveback efforts centered around helping the next generation learn about Black history through book donations to a local school in his community.
Reaching out to the school’s principal first, Emmanuel was soon connected with the librarian at the school, who helped him identify what books were needed. “The principal connected us, and then it was a home run from there.” Using his Foresters Care™ grant, Emmanuel purchased 13 Black history books to add to the library.
“We couldn’t just present the books with nothing. It’s fine, but it would be better to add something.” Emmanuel then combined his grant funds with his wife’s to provide lunch for the 67 teachers at the school as a thank-you. A local deli kicked in some extra funds to help with the lunch. “They chipped in $200. So, basically, our funds doubled.”
While his goal was to educate youth about Black history, he wanted to ensure that the staff at the school were rewarded for their hard work. “The teachers are paying out of their own pockets to take care of our children. Why shouldn’t we support them?”
Marsha Hamilton-Otuka – Airdrie, AB, Canada
Marsha joined Foresters in 2018 and recently kicked off her granting experience by donating books about Canadian diversity and Black history to St. Veronica, a new school in her area.
“I have two daughters that attend the school. I’m very cognizant that as a visible minority, I need to make sure that I’m actively involved in the school and making an impact.”
While talking about the day she brought in the books, Marsha said, “I was overjoyed. I felt a sense of pride, and as a mom and community member, I was so happy.”
After making her donations, Marsha felt inspired to go further. She partnered with the school and is starting new traditions every February for Black History Month.
She’s got big plans for this year. “We’ll be doing an art demonstration, bringing in artifacts, clothing and instruments from different regions across Africa and the Caribbean that will be on display all month.”
When celebrating Black History Month at home, for Marsha and her family, it goes beyond just February, “For us, it’s an everyday celebration. I want to imprint this feeling in my children’s thoughts through me as their mom.”
Sherisse Washington – Mason, Ohio, US
Sherisse carried out her first grant activity in January 2020. Since then, this busy teacher has become a member leader and regularly uses Foresters grants to give back to others, especially children.
The Foresters Care grant has come in handy for Sherisse plenty of times because of the simplicity behind the benefit. “Foresters Care is easy peasy because it’s $200 and you can just drop off your donations.”
More recently, Sherisse used her Foresters Care grant to purchase 28 books to donate to Kings Mills Elementary in her community. A majority of the books focused on the importance of Black history.
By contributing the books, Sherisse also hoped to help lighten the financial burden on teachers. In another past donation to the same school, Sherisse noted, “Kings Mills Elementary teachers are all spending their own money, and it really racks up.”
Books to read with your children during Black History Month
Interested in learning more about the books our members donated to their local schools? We’ve listed some of them below. Each book is a great way to introduce your children to Black history and stories about courage, determination and overcoming adversity.
- Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
- Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
- Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison
- Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
- Black Is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy
- Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker
- I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes
Make a quick and impactful difference
Each member above made an impact through our Foresters Care grant. It’s an easy and quick way to give back to others without planning an entire activity or coordinating groups of people. All our members have to do is see a need in their community, apply for the grant and use the funds to help give back. Login to MyForesters and learn more about this tiny but mighty grant and the other member benefits available.
If you’ve got a Care grant activity coming up, please consider sharing how you gave back on our Foresters Care Facebook group after you’re done. Who knows? You may inspire others to use their grant and help communities and people in need.
421511 CAN/US (02/23)