Celebrating Black History Month

RUSH leaders share their reflections
Black History Month Reflections - Web Feature

As Black History Month comes to a close, we asked RUSH leaders to reflect on the importance of the recognition month and share what this celebration of Black history means to them. 

Danielle Vazquez
Director, Support Services

Black History Month means everything. It means how far we came, but how much farther we have to go to attain true equity. I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams. I stand on the shoulders of them and they give me the strength to build the next generation of Black professionals. I have never been more proud to be a Black woman.

Black history is American history. Black culture helped build the infrastructure of America, along with other unrepresented groups. We should honor the food, music, technology and art that came from Black culture and help invest in populations of color to continue their excellence. Every day is a celebration of Black history.

Wrenetha Julion, PhD, RN
Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion, College of Nursing
Professor, College of Nursing

Black History Month is a time of learning and celebration. Every year I learn something new and innovative about the amazing Black people who came before me, and look forward to the future accomplishments of our young people as they work to change the many injustices of the past.

It is so critically important to recognize Black history so that all young people know the unabridged history of this country. The accomplishments of Black people are so foundational to this country. The more that is known about the past, the greater the potential for the future. It is particularly relevant and exciting in this moment as we are experiencing the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman nominated to the United States Supreme Court in over 200 years.

Shonda Morrow, JD
Vice President, Patient Care Services

Black History Month to me is to acknowledge and remember the past "gifts" that African Americans have contributed to the global growth and development of our society and the world. It speaks to the current contributions of African Americans that continue to motivate and amaze me, notwithstanding our contemporary social challenges. Black History Month is synonymous with resilience and being American. Quite honestly, I experience Black History Month each and every day.

It is critically important to honor and celebrate Black History Month so that society never forgets that we are all ethically, morally, economically and socially contributors to the success of humankind.

Rukiya Curvey Johnson
Interim Vice President, Community Health Equity
Executive Director, Rush Education & Career Hub

Black History Month is often a time of discovery, reflection and renewal. A time to discover pioneers and unsung heroes who’ve made an impact. It’s a time to reflect on those that have come before us and those who will come after. A time to renew our vision and possibilities for an inspiring future.

Discovery — It is usually a time to explore and discover achievers who’ve made history in all kinds of fields, from science and law to business and health care. By shining a light and lifting up African Americans across all fields, everyone can see the possibilities for Black achievement beyond the usual spaces of sports and entertainment.

Reflection — It is time for me to reflect on all that my ancestors went through so that I can live the life I have today. Without my grandmother, Mae Ruth Curvey toiling in Texas cotton fields and working tirelessly to provide for her children, I would not be here. Without my paternal grandfather escaping the Klan in Alabama to settle in Oklahoma as an entrepreneur, I would not be here. It gives me a chance to pause and appreciate all the courageous, resilient, tenacious and brilliant people that made a way out of no way.

Renewal — It is a time of renewal and hope. You can’t help but be moved by the stories of trailblazers like Reginald “Hats” Adams from Rush, Granville T. Woods, an inventor, or Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress and who sought the nomination to run for president in 1972.

In honoring the past, I am inspired for the future. I am inspired to act and feel an obligation to leave an impact that is greater than myself.