Speak Up! Speak Out! Part 2

Speak Up! Speak Out!

Over the next several weeks, we will bring you a collection of contemporary writings and performances from provocative artists and creatives, many who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color.

For February, we sent out a prompt to several REP staff and friends – “What does Black History Month mean to you" – knowing that there is a range of viewpoints and feelings. We hope sharing these perspectives provides you entryways for dialogue among your networks and food for thought and action about what this month now means and how we all can foster a deeper appreciation for Black History every day of the year.

What Black History Month Means to Me - Part 2

From Carter G. Woodsons proclamation of a week to celebrate Negro achievement to President Gerald Ford's enacting the month of February as a national 28 day celebration; Black History has surfaced on the American consciousness as a means to correct the sin of a benign racial and cultural neglect. The invention was a necessary course correction and yet as we contemplate inclusion in 2021 it hardly seems an adequate reconciliation. The motion of history of a people can never be measured in increments of time;  it rather resides in the whlolistic immersion cresting on a  cultural tide washing on the sands of global shores.. Black History is a journey embedded in the American narrative; its study is a matter of everyday and if there is to be cultural literacy in this lifetime; it is paramount that we abandon the ghettoizing of achievement..To study America is to study the unique fabric of it many and varied cultures each shaping the very definition of its borders...So now we are charged to begin anew..with a distinct and unique inherited understanding that if as Langston Hughes once implored ..America is to be America again..the history of a people must be stitched together in reasoned and comprehensive fashion..the whole of all our stories..And for Black folk..W.E.B. Dubois' Souls Of Black Folk..our history must annoint every page of every season in every school and bastion of intellectual thought..And with that as prologue: Let America fulfill its promise of a heightened and enlightened melting pot underscoring the highest of Democratic ideals.

Thomas W.Jones II, a career professional...founder of Jomandi Productions once America's premiere Afican American Theatre..currently working as Playwright .Director .Choreographer..He is a father. An artist. A Humanist. 

For me, Black History Month has always represented an important and necessary period of time for Black Americans across this great Nation to come together and celebrate and rejoice in our rich, shared culture, and to reflect on the hard-fought struggles for freedoms and Civil Rights that so many who have come before us have had to fight for over the past 243 years. With great pride, It is a time to remember and celebrate our heroes and leaders who have, against all odds, endured, sacrificed and persevered to make significant contributions to American culture and the world, and to the advancement of our people. As a child growing up in Sacramento, I can remember feeling a sense of pride and responsibilty when teachers assigned research papers and class presentations for Black History Month. I remember trips to the library in grade school to choose a Black historical figure to write about, and the awed excitement (and frustration) at my discovery that there were so many, too many, to choose from! But these trips to the library where I learned about the accomplishments of Black Freedom Fighters, Educators, Physicians, Engineers, Civil Rights Leaders, Artists and Inventors opened up a brand new world to kid who didn't always feel a part of something.
This year, while our fight for justice and equality continues as the whole world rises in a collective protest to the events of the past year - the brutal, senseless and unjust killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, that have brought to light too many other countless atrocities committed against our black and brown brothers and sisters - I think that Black History Month, and the importance, necessity and celebration of it, takes on, and will continue to take on, a heightened awareness and significance.

Vaughn Rainwater is a Sales, Marketing, and Development Professional who has worked at the Old Globe, San Diego Symphony, and currently as Community Partnerships Ambassador at San Diego Repertory Theatre, where he has been since 2015.  

As a visionary, engineer, and community activist, I love seeing what collaboration is by picturing it, designing it, and involving my network to make it happen.  I am also the CEO of The STEAM Collaborative, a doctoral student in Educational Leadership, and a STEAM Education Ambassador. While these are all titles that I have worked hard to attain, one of my favorite titles is Black Woman. I am a Black Woman this February and every month to come.
A few years ago, I was on a mission to bring together the African-American Employee Resource Groups across San Diego County.  Hearing this, City Employee Greg Woods approached me desiring to do something bigger than the typical Black History Month display in the lobby of City Hall.  This weekend was my third year co-leading an event with the San Diego City Black Employees Association.  We partnered with Unity Runners for Breonna Taylor and several other community organizations to bring together over 100 people on a Saturday morning for the Black History in Motion 5K.  This year, we had the special honor of the highest ranking City of San Diego official to attend, Mayor Todd Gloria.  Of course, we had to make it a production as the planning team was adorned with pins as a reminder to Love Black Women!
In 2019, I first learned the location of the City Administration Building (City Hall).  In 2020, I learned exactly where the Mayor and City Council members sat.  In 2021, I saw what it looks like to be a public servant virtually, on social media, and in person.  Growing up, I was never interested in politics. Actually, social studies was my least favorite subject.  Similar to how many of my colleagues now value math, I now value the important legacy of public meetings, and public records.  This is how history is documented, and I am honored that the documentation includes my name.
When history includes my name, it is so much larger than me.  When history includes my name, it includes my father, mother, brother and sisters.  When it includes my name, my cousins, aunts, uncles, niece, nephew, and ancestors also share my name.  My friends who are an extension of me, and their friends who they now inspire are also included in history.  Most of all, any time I make history, I make Women’s History and Black History.
This Black History Month, I have received continued confirmation that I am on the right path.  Black Women need special elevation.  On May 22, 1962, Malcolm X said “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”  I am proud to make history as a Black Woman who is respected, protected, and cherished. 

Trained as a rocket scientist and ballerina, Ms. Jasmine L. Sadler, MBA lives her life on purpose through her company, The STEAM Collaborative, which increases the number of diverse children – of all genders and cultures – pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, alongside artistic endeavors. She also serves on the board of San Diego REP.