top of page
  • Writer's pictureBelinda Lane

Discussion: Not just Black History, but also Black Present!

By: Chiara Noble

February 3, 2023

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by various African Americans. We discuss things such as Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad, the Montgomery Bus Boycott to Selma and more. Most recently, the Black Lives Matter movement, Black leaders, artists, and writers have helped shaped the character and identity of a nation. Historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans, also known as African American History Month, which started out as “Negro History Week,” this well-known month in February. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrate Black history.

Every year when February rolls around, most of us have been conditioned to celebrate this month only. But what happens after February 28th comes and goes. Often, silence follows. What if we began to talk about and celebrate the present as well? Let’s start with Vice President Kamala Harris. She is the first Black, first South Asian American and first woman Vice President of the United States. Not only that, Harris is also the first vice president to have graduated from a historically Black college or university (HBCU) University. She was the first Black American to serve as California’s Attorney General. As if those aren’t tremendous accomplishments all on their own, as a senator, she advocated for healthcare reform which is very much needed. Along with a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the DREAM Act, a ban on assault weapons, and progressive tax reform.

Or how about Jesse Williams, an American actor, model, and activist, best known for his role as Dr. Jackson Avery on the ABC Television series Grey’s Anatomy? Williams is the youngest member of the board of directors at The Advancement Project, which is a civil rights think tank and advocacy group. He is also the executive producer of Question Bridge: Black Males, which is a website, focused on the black male identity and the diversity within the demographic. He also won the humanitarian award at the 2016 BET Awards, delivering a speech highlighting racial injustice and police brutality. These are all enormous accomplishments, and much needed discussions.

Next we have Sydney Barber, 21 years old, and the U.S. Naval Academy’s first Black female brigade commander. She was able to break a 175-year history of no black woman ever serving as a brigade commander. That changed last January when Midshipman Sydney Barber stepped into the role. She oversees roughly 4,000 midshipmen at the Naval Academy. Her dad graduated from the academy, so she followed in his footsteps. Like many other Black attendees before her, her dad experienced racism during his tenure as a midshipman. Once a precedent is set, there’s no turning back!

Let’s move onto Nicholas Johnson, the 23-year-old who is Princeton’s first Black valedictorian. In May 2020, Johnson was announced as Princeton University’s first Black valedictorian in the school’s 275-year history. This university has historical beginnings and its ties to the institution of slavery. History has now been made, but it’s bittersweet. This is one example which goes to show how much work has been done, but also how much work still lies ahead.

Have you heard of Ava DuVernay? She is a director, screenwriter, film marketer, and film distributor. I became familiar with her work, after viewing “When They See Us”. She created and directed this miniseries about the wrongful imprisonment of five teenagers (known as the Central Park Five) who were accused, convicted. Later exonerated in the crime of brutally assaulting a jogger in Central Park. Ava DuVernay won the Best Director at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, becoming the first African-American woman to win the award. She also was the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award and have her film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture for Selma.

These are just a few that come to mind, but the list of black excellence goes on and on. I remember celebrating with my daughter when the Biden/Harris team won the election and made history. I was moved to tears, as I explained the significance of this historical moment and what this meant for our Country. This was just as big of a win as when President Obama was elected the first black president of the United States in 2008.

As we continue to move forward. I am inspired by the fact that I can look at my children, and someday my grandchildren, and tell them they can become and accomplish literally anything they put their mind to. With examples to reference to them! In closing, my intention is not to negate all the amazing people in our history, nor downplay the blood, sweat, tears, and trauma that they had to endure. Their sacrifices should never go unnoticed. Still let us not forget to mention those who are currently trailblazing and making history of their own, and those who are leading us into the future.

Thank you for joining me for Friday at Sundown. Remember… Just Breathe!

Celebrating Black History Makers: Sydney Barber, First Black Female Brigade Commander At U.S. Naval - YouTube

(Disclaimer: We do not own the rights to the scene in this video)

18-year-old makes history as youngest Black mayor in the US | ABCNL - YouTube

(Disclaimer: We do not own the rights to the scene in this video)

Princeton Names Its First Black Valedictorian | TODAY - YouTube

(Disclaimer: We do not own the rights to the scene in this video)

Harriet (2019) - The Combahee River Raid Scene (9/10) | Movieclips - YouTube

(Disclaimer: We do not own the rights to the scene in this video)

About the Writer:

Chiara A. Noble: Is a visionary, a woman of many talents who wears many hats. She is an ordained Reverend, wife, mother, daughter, sister. A published author and the co-host of Victory Talk, a virtual talk show centered around helping people to grow, speak and live a victorious life. She is a certified mental health advocate and life coach. She has faced many trials/tribulations but lives by the saying “storms make trees take deeper roots.”



Facebook: Key Alicia

Instagram: Key_alicia_


Mental Health America | Homepage | Mental Health America (

Mental Health Month | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness (

Home |

NIMH » Home (

bottom of page