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Celebrating Black Success This Black History Month

It’s very easy to get caught up in all the bad news of the world. We all go on social media and participate in “doom scrolling”, seeing post after post about how terrible life can get. As a Black woman, I find it very easy to get caught up in all the issues surrounding Black existence. While it’s important to stay updated and informed about the current climate, it’s equally important to celebrate the joy. That’s why this Black History Month I’m choosing to tell the stories of Black successes. We are more than just the hardships we face.

Here are 5 Black success stories to inspire you this month:

  1. Eleanor Collins

Eleanor Collins is known as Vancouver’s “First Lady of Jazz” and was a talented studio musician working for CBC Radio. She was the first Canadian woman to have her own national television show: CBC TV’s The Eleanor Show, later renamed Eleanor.

  1. Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall

Cynthia Marshall is the first Black woman to become CEO in the NBA. In 2018, Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban hired Cynthia Marshall to help turn around an organization that was in crisis mode. She hopes that her presence at the top of professional sports will pave the way for others to join her.

  1. Maurice Ashley

Maurice Ashley was the first Black American to become a chess grandmaster. He was born in Jamaica and moved to Brooklyn, New York at 12 years old. He was awarded grandmaster status in 1999 and later published several books about chess.

  1. Sir Lewis Hamilton MBE

Sir Lewis Hamilton is an English Formula 1 driver who amassed great popularity for the boundaries he broke in the sport. The sport of motor racing doesn’t feature many Black drivers, the likes of Willy T. Ribbs and Bubba Wallace are anomalies. However, Lewis Hamilton’s success and world-wide attention has opened the door for kids to dream of breaking records like him. The Englishman holds the record for most grand prix wins at 100, and most pole positions at 101. He’s at the pinnacle of the sport and uses his position to advocate for causes close to him.

  1. Andrea Jenkins

Andrea Jenkins became the first openly transgender Black woman to be elected to public office in the United States. She was appointed in November 2017 and was 1 of 2 openly trans people to win a seat on Minneapolis City Council that year.

Even though I’ve shared this list of amazing achievements, I want to make it clear that Black success doesn’t have to be groundbreaking work. As Black people we need to remember to enjoy moments of joy wherever we can find them. It’s noble to fight and advocate, but don’t get lost in the struggle. Find balance where you can. Take your moments to rest and reconnect with all the good that your culture brings you. We need to fight the battles and celebrate the victories, and sometimes the fight is in the celebration. 

Resources:

https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/black-history-month/black-canadians.html#s3

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/01/23-black-leaders-who-are-shaping-history-today.html

https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/articles/single-seaters/f1/willy-t-ribbs-f1-drivers-can-change-the-world-by-backing-hamilton

https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/formula-1-records-which-f1-records-could-be-broken-in-2021-5477421/5477421/

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/11-black-lgbtq-history-makers-you-should-know-n848631

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Lydia Kifle

Waterloo '23

Lydia Kifle (she/her) is a Business and Communication Studies student at the University of Waterloo. She is passionate about learning ways to combat social issues. In her free time she enjoys writing stories and engaging in all kinds of creative expression.
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