Black History Month

“Almost always, the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

There is a richness that resides in the culture, heritage and history of Black Americans. Those contributions are everywhere you look, stretching from the arts to the sciences and everywhere in between. The web of American history cannot be woven without the inclusion of Black history and, as Thurgood Marshall once said, “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” Black History Month allows us to understand vital context of our country. By honoring it, we validate and value the significance and depth of Black history. Celebrating overseas may present its own challenges, but it hasn’t deterred these FSS employees from observing the vital contributions of Black Americans:

“Living abroad as a Black individual is a unique experience that has shaped my perspectives on the world in a way that no other experience could. As a result, when discussions about Black History arise, I am keenly aware of its significance, for Black History is not just a history of Blacks, but a history of the world. You can observe this by reading about the civil rights movement, which sought to ensure all people had fair treatment and equal access to the same rights. Furthermore, Black culture has had a lasting impact on the world with multiple influences, such as music, culture and food which are found in many corners of the globe. As it relates to celebrating Black History month while living abroad, I have found that one of the best ways to do so is to find a community of people who can relate to and understand my heritage. It is so reassuring to be seen by someone without having to say a word, and it can be incredibly empowering. Additionally, educating others interested in learning about my history and actively seeking opportunities to learn more are great ways to celebrate the month. There are many ways to celebrate throughout the year, and all it takes is a small effort and some creativity to observe Black History month abroad. Building a solid community is the key to feeling at home, and celebrating the culture, no matter where in the world you are.”– Shannon Hawkins

“I honor Black History Month by celebrating from February to February. It’s exciting to exchange information with others to discuss our Scholars and Master Teachers, learn more history, acknowledge the contributions that we have given and continue to give to the world and just fellowship. There’s a home away from home here. Japan has a thriving African American community that connects through the Blacks in Japan Facebook page for recurring meet ups and networking events. Plenty of Black Owned Businesses are here too. As a child, the charge that was given to me was: ‘Each One Reach One, Each One Teach One, Each One Help One. Drink freely from the fountain of education so that you may serve the world and those that need you.’ I love to see, encourage, connect, embrace, learn from and love on peoples that look like me, unapologetically. The village raised me. It is my duty to be a good villager by being what they were to me, to someone else. That’s the tradition I follow.” – Roberte Foster

“As this is my first overseas assignment, celebrating Black History Month looks a little different this year for my family. While this is a time to recognize the impact and legacy of African American leaders, this is also an opportunity to educate ourselves of influential (non-Black) Americans who support and empower African American communities and culture. Being able to draw historical parallels to current social injustice crises is imperative to both my personal and professional growth as an African American woman living overseas. Virtually, I participate in the Black History Month: Resilient, Renewed, Revitalized Conference which serves all youth and their communities through the Boys and Girls Clubs of America Advocacy. Organizations such as the African American Heritage Association at Yokota provides the opportunity for continued engagement, knowledge and understanding of Black history.” – Ashleigh Stafford

As Mr. Foster said, Black History Month can be celebrated from February to February, even living abroad. Connecting to Black history can build, strengthen and empower all communities, and that includes the team here at Yokota. This month, take the time celebrate and study the way Black history–American history–has impacted the world around you.