Black History Month Opportunities and February D&I Calendar Awareness

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 11:20
by R. Kevin Ray CPCU, CIC, AINS, AIS, API, AU

Each month the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access Committee (formerly known as the D&I Committee) will highlight our Diversity Calendar to create an awareness of the multi-faceted dimensions that bring us all together. 

February is Black History Month, an annual observance originating in the US, also known as African-American History Month.  It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.  It is celebrated in February in the United States and Canada and is celebrated in Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in October.  There are many ways to be an ally and learn more.  Please see the attached file for a calendar of events for just a few suggestions.

There are other important observations of Diversity in February

February 4 - Rosa Parks Day, is an American holiday in honor of the civil rights leader. In California and Missouri, Rosa Parks Day is celebrated on her birthday, February 4. In Ohio and Oregon, it's celebrated on the day she was arrested, December 1.

February 6 - The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is a United Nations-sponsored annual awareness day that marks part of the UN's efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation. About 120 to 140 million women have been subject to FGM and 3 million girls are at risk each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). FGM relates to all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. This practice is an abuse of human rights and causes serious health complications, including fatal bleeding.

February 8 or February 15 - Nirvana Day By some it is celebrated on the 8th but by most the 15th is the commemoration of Buddha's death at the age of 80, when he reached the zenith of Nirvana.

February 12 -  26 - Losar, the Tibetan Buddhist New Year. Losar, which means "new year" in Tibetan, is considered the most important holiday in Tibet. The New Year here means a fresh beginning. Non-Tibetans are always welcome at these celebrations. The specific rituals are not exclusive; everyone is invited to join the welcoming of a fresh start.

February 14 - Frederick Douglass Day The day marks the birthday of Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey). He was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing. He stood as a living counter-example to slaveholders' arguments that slaves did not have the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.

February 17 – Ash Wednesday This is a Christian observance which represents the first day of Lent and the starting of approximately 6 weeks of fasting and penance.  It is said to have originated during the papacy of Gregory the Great and the practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head.  The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made man.

February 25 – Purim The evening of February 25th until February 26th at sundown this year is the Jewish celebration of Purim which runs on a lunar calendar.  Purim (a Hebrew word that means: "Lots" in English) is a joyous festival commemorating the survival of the Jews who, in the 5th century BC, were marked for death on a date chosen by casting lots persecuted by certain of their Persian rulers. The story is related in the biblical Book of Esther.

February 26 - International Stand Up to Bullying Day This day is celebrated two times a year and will be observed again on November 19th.  Participants wear a pink "pledge shirt" to take a visible, public stance against bullying.  The event takes place in 25 countries around the globe.

Inclusion is a journey and I'm always trying to learn more about the world we are a part of.  The Committee and I ask you to consider a few things:

What did you learn or already know?  Who in your network of friends, family and co-workers could you share this with?  Can you post a photo of you observing one of these holidays or share back your thoughts! 

Best wishes everyone, Kevin

Vice President, Learning & Development
Erie Insurance
Erie, PA

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