Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from a message that National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., sent to NIH staff, in recognition of Black History Month.
Each year during the month of February, the nation celebrates Black History Month. In 1915, historian, author, and journalist Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson — nationally recognized as the “Father of Black History” — founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). ASALH was created to encourage and preserve Black history and culture.
NIH’s Black History Month theme is “Honoring the Past, and Inspiring the Future.” The theme pays homage to the ancestors of the past, while looking to the future generation to preserve and communicate the rich legacy of Black history. Knowing the history of Black America is to understand and to appreciate the journey that was taken, and ensures that the past continues to influence, improve, and secure the future. Black history is American history. It should not be acknowledged one month out of the year, but celebrated every day, so that future generations understand the richness of the culture.
The NIH continues its commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, and to improving the health of the nation. Celebrating Black history is an inclusive effort to show that not only are we committed to the NIH’s mission to apply fundamental knowledge through research and care to enhance health, but we are also sensitive to the cultural uniqueness of our workforce.
I urge you to join in this opportunity to celebrate Black History Month. Visit the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Twitter and Instagram pages to find Black history facts, as well as photos of Blacks in science, education, engineering, technology, and civil rights.
I also encourage you to support the Black Special Emphasis Portfolio and to get involved in efforts to improve the outreach, recruitment, retention, and advancement of this and other diverse populations at the NIH.