February is Black History Month. What originated as a weeklong event in 1926, created by Black historians to record and document their own history, has evolved into a multifaceted month of education, celebration, and reflection. At The Clubhouse Network, we believe that Black history is American history.
We also affirm that it’s important that our youth know that they have role models and that they come from a rich tradition. Research shows that people working in STEM fields are more likely than their non-STEM peers to cite “lack of access to quality education, lack of encouragement to pursue subjects at an early age, and lack of Black role models working in the field” as primary reasons for the lack of Black representation in these fields. Despite that dearth of representation in some STEM fields, People of Color have always been inventors, innovators, scientists, mathematicians, and continue to be pioneers.
Black history should be celebrated all year round and homage should be paid to those who helped pave the way for this generation’s brilliant minds. Whether it’s Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, the three mathematicians and engineers who made it possible for NASA to orbit Earth, or inventor Jerry Lawson who pioneered modern video gaming platforms, the contributions of Black Americans must be lifted up over and over again until their names are as easily recalled as the inventor of the light bulb and the founder of Microsoft. As leaders in youth empowerment and creative expression, we owe to our youth the work of expanding and correcting our existing understandings of history.
Despite the challenges presented in 2020 due to COVID-19, our youth are still creating, innovating, and using their talents in new and imaginative ways. Many are incorporating aspects of their culture, drawing on their backgrounds, and celebrating Black history throughout the year. To see many wonderful examples of these projects, please visit Clubhouse Voices, our site highlighting youth responses to COVID‑19 and racism. Additionally, voting will soon open for the 6th annual RE@CH Media Festival, our signature platform for youth media where you’ll find even more powerful expressions of youth voice.