Leaning into Black History Through Discovery and Intentional Discussion

February 1, 2023

Each year in February, people in the United States (and in various countries around the world) celebrate the achievements of Black people during Black History Month. The original story of Black History Month can be traced to historian Carter G. Woodson’s frustration with the lack of information about the contributions of Black people available to the public. Dating back to 1926, Mr. Woodson selected a week in February to honor the achievements of Black Americans that coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and Frederick Douglass (February 14). The week-long event officially became a month-long celebration in 1976 when U.S. President Gerald Ford formally proclaimed February as a time to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans.

Studying history offers a window into the past and space to reflect on how the past shaped present-day society. Yet Black history often is reduced to slavery, along with wisdom from a small number of iconic leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. That slimmed down approach ignores hundreds of years of history, leaves out important details, and lacks the nuance to truly tell the story of Black people in America.

In an effort to foster discovery and to encourage intentional discussion, we are pleased to be screening the film The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks to our employees this month. Many of us are familiar with Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on the segregated bus in 1955’s Montgomery, Alabama. However, the simplified narrative of Rosa being tired and becoming an accidental heroine of the civil rights movement, is not accurate. In this fascinating documentary (based upon a book of the same name by Dr. Jeanne Theoharis) we get to know the real Rosa Parks and see that she is much different than the almost mythological figure presented each year in February. Throughout the month, Konica Minolta teams will have the opportunity to watch the film, read the book by Dr. Jeanne Theoharis, and engage in thoughtful discussions. If you are interested in learning more about the film, you can access the documentary via streaming on the Peacock app or check out Dr. Theoharis’ book wherever books are sold.

This February, let’s lean into Black history by discovering new stories and new perspectives. Seeing the world from the vantage point of another, can be a huge driver for change, regardless of heritage. By sharing stories and fostering connections between employees, we are working to strengthen our sense of community and embody our commitment to racial equity and inclusion.

Nikki Jones (she/her)
Director, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

As the Head of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Konica Minolta, Nikki evangelizes the power of diversity and inclusion to drive change and innovation at work. She is responsible for the diversity and inclusion strategy including the policies and processes that engage employees, elevate awareness and action about equity, and foster a sense of belonging and community at work. Guided by a deep desire to level the playing field, Nikki is a frequent speaker on topics related to education, technology, the future of work, inclusion and belonging.