We proudly magnify the voices of people whose past experiences have inspired them to take action now to create a better future. This is something we do not just because it’s Black History Month, but also because change is occurring and Black History is today.

Pamela Smith – Video Interpreter

Growing up my mother told me stories about her grandfather, Isaac Dickson. He had a very remarkable life as a freed slave and had a direct impact on the City of Asheville, NC after the Civil War.  He currently has a school named after him in Asheville. I always wanted to do a better job of the exact details of my heritage, but a parent from the school did the research in the archives and saved my family a lot of time and hard work. 🙂 I have a photocopy of the “safe passage” artifact, which is a very treasured item.

It was signed by leaders of Cleveland County, NC to give my great-grandfather safe passage to Morganton, NC.

I’m proud to be his descendent with such a wonderful legacy. I wondered where my “trailblazing” character came from. I believe it’s from this man.

And my grandfather’s legacy is also treasured, Lt. James B. Dickson. He was one of a group of officers trained at Fort Dix, NJ, and served our country in France during WWI.

Ashly Drumwright – Video Interpreter

As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult), the way I celebrate Black History Month is by educating my daughter with projects daily. We look up different black people who have impacted our lives in one way or another, outside of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and so many others. What local Blacks have made a difference here in the state of Maryland where we live? But, Black History Month isn’t just in February. It’s all year round for my family.

Kynesha Hicks – PAH Video Interpreter/SCIS Interpreter

For some, Black History Month is a 28-day moment in our busy annual calendars. For others, it is a daily celebration of our lives, our children, our ancestors, and the Black heroes alive today, and their immeasurable contributions to America. 

It is a time to respectfully salute, celebrate and honor Black Americans who have led, taught, fought, and sacrificed to improve our country. 

It is also a call for us to be a part of history by consciously re-evaluating our individual mindsets, socially engaging in respectful discussions, and organizing through action to contribute to our own legacy. 

We all need to join in the year-long journey to recognize the significant contributions Black Americans have made and continue to make – to our society, history, culture. . .and future. 

It is through our increased empathy, understanding, and open-mindedness within our inner circles that we can truly begin to honor Black History, and move our country forward together.

Valerie McMillan – Regional Trainer

Black History Month means we take the opportunity to emphasize the importance of our trailblazers and the significant contributions that they have given in hopes that we can have a brighter tomorrow. 

I celebrate Black History Month to focus on all the positivity that has come from our ancestors (past, present, future).  I incorporate not only Hearing Blacks but anyone in the Deaf/Deaf-Blind/Interpreter Communities.  I also honor those that created any type of movies related to our communities by watching them more at that time.

Growing up being an OH CODA (Only Hearing Child of Deaf Adults) I had to interpret a lot for my family.  And I had not once seen a Black interpreter.  At that point, I declared I will be the first Black Interpreter. Now we know that isn’t true but in my world it was.  Not only did I become one of the first Black Certified interpreters in NC but I assisted with setting up NC Black Deaf Advocates Chapter #30 (NCBDA in 2005 and National Alliance of Black Interpreters of NC in 2006).  This gives both communities a place to learn, feel accepted, and grow individually as well as collectively.

Robert Feggins – Video Interpreter

I celebrate Black History Month by doing research about different people who have inspired change and created opportunities for themselves and others. Every day during the month of February I learn about people past and present who have made an impact for the Black Community.  When possible, I share it with my family or on social media. 

Angela Littleton – Video Interpreter

A moment that made me think of Black History Month differently is when I was doing a play about Red Lining and had to do research about it. It was something that I didn’t know about and it changed my perspective of the world. I asked my parents about their experience when they settled in NY and it further opened my eyes that there is so much that I still don’t know about our history. Now I am much more curious and actively seek out Black history.

Dr. Teela Davis-Umukoro – Video Interpreter

I celebrate Black History Month indefinitely. Over my 36 years of life, I continue to learn more about who I am and where I come from. So much has been hidden from us as a people. Thus, I never wait for the “month”. I remain ever committed to peeling back the layers of our legacy.