Dear GCF Community,
Feb 1st marked the start of Black History Month in America – as Chris Rock notes, the shortest and coldest month of the year. But, the month of February was actually chosen in recognition of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln who were both born in February. At GCF we celebrate Black history and Black excellence ALL YEAR LONG. We encourage the entire GCF community to do the same.
GCF Corps Members are making history every month of the year. They are leaders, fighters, farmers, energy auditors, solar installers, building superintendents, and business owners hiring and training fellow graduates. They’re applying to be Climate Justice Fellows, they’re urban foresters, writers, and artists. GCF Corps Members and graduates are resilient! Like Frederick Douglass and so many others, they work everyday to become their best selves by learning and growing, and giving back to others in their community lifting as they climb. They are voices of truth and role models for all of us, but particularly for those coming after them. Our members do all of this while also navigating historical systemic barriers, and the disproportionate physical and mental health consequences of the pandemic inflicted on BIPOC frontline communities.
The origins of Black History Month started in 1915 and it was made an official month of national recognition in 1976. Before George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, John Lewis, Rosa Parks and MLK, there was Frederick Douglass. Born in 1818, Frederick Douglass had the transformational journey from being a slave in America to becoming a global icon of thought leadership walking the talk as an example of liberation and championing racial equality and women’s rights. Despite having a limited formal education, Douglass continued to build his skills and knowledge, address injustices, and secure respect and recognition as a credible messenger of the real challenges and potential solutions to the nation’s inequities tied to social justice. You can read more about Frederick Douglass here and here.
In honor of Black History Month, GCF is committed to amplifying historical voices and achievements of Black environmental figures, and continuing to center the perspectives, experiences, and accomplishments of our Corps Members, Alumni, and staff who are making Black History and positive change here and now.
Throughout this month (and beyond) we will continue to share stories from the field and other inspirational figures through community spotlights. This year’s theme of Black Health and Wellness is important to highlight as we continue our collective, ongoing work in creating justice, liberation, healing and equity.
Please join me in celebrating and recognizing the strength, talent and potential of GCF Corps Members and graduates, and honoring historical champions who set the path for our work going forward. Thank you all for your partnership and commitment to environmental, economic and racial justice. Happy Black History Month.
In service and solidarity,