County Manager Column from Feb. 2, 2021

Black History Month: Celebrating the Black Family

Since the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, February has been recognized as Black History Month. The national event has a history that dates back to 1925 which is recounted at africanamericanhistorymonth.gov. However, even as we take time out this month to learn, celebrate and reflect - as NAACP reminds us, “Black history is made every day, and we all should remember that year-round.”

This year, more than ever, it is important for every one of us to recognize that Black history is a part of our collective history. No matter what you look like or who you are, Black history is an important part of American history. Of Minnesota history. Of Ramsey County history. February provides us with focused opportunities to learn, grow and continue efforts to build a community in which all are valued and thrive, and I hope you will take part in this month’s Black History Month events.

For about three decades, Ramsey County and the city of Saint Paul have maintained a robust programming schedule for employees of our two organizations during Black History Month. Despite the pandemic, the team has again driven the program ahead in 2021. This year’s series will include four virtual events following the theme of Recognizing the Black Family. Event organizers debuted new webpages for the event this year where staff are invited to join in on discussions around different topics that relate to African American families in Saint Paul and Ramsey County each week in February.

The virtual series kicks off this Friday:

Entrepreneurship

This event will feature a panel discussion including local business owners about the dynamic between entrepreneurship and family in Black Communities.
Friday, Feb. 5, noon – 1 p.m.

Diaspora

This event will be a forum and week-long discussion about the connectedness and the differentiation within the Black community and the African Diaspora.
Friday, Feb. 12, noon – 1 p.m.

“The Talk”

This event focuses on familial conversations with Black youth and interactions with police, featuring retired Saint Paul Police Sergeant Melvin Carter, Jr.
Friday, Feb. 19, noon – 1 p.m.

Family Traditions

This year's final Black History Month event will be an interactive discussion around family traditions and food, including the history of soul food and its importance in Black families.
Friday, Feb. 26, noon – 1:30 p.m.

I’m really looking forward to this year’s lineup and I encourage you attend these conveniently scheduled lunchtime sessions – and to invite others from your networks to participate also!

Also - next Tuesday, Feb. 9, our commissioners are scheduled to proclaim February as Black History Month in Ramsey County. Tune in to the board meeting real-time at 9 a.m. if you can, or watch the video when it's posted later that day. Also, next week we'll begin sharing reflections of employees across the organization on RamseyNet throughout the month.  

Thanks and congratulations to this year’s volunteer committee for an inspiring series of events. Finally, thanks to the more than 600 Black Ramsey County employees who, as a part of this organization of 4,000 strong, are doing their part to make Black history today!