To Celebrate Black History Month, we wanted to take a step back and have our dear friend, Sheryl Ellsworth, give us some valuable insight on how we can better educate ourselves and honor the sacrifices and accomplishments of Black people.
Sheryl Ellsworth is the project manager for Utah Youth Leadership Pipeline, an initiative to increase BIPOC representation in Utah's education, political, and business leadership. She left her role as the Family/Community Engagement Specialist for the Utah State Board of Education.'
In this role, she supported and trained schools, namely administrators and teachers, in engaging families through evidence-based strategies in urban, suburban, rural, remote, and indigenous reservation communities. Sheryl served as the team leader of a family engagement fellowship to design a strategic plan to improve family engagement in Utah.
Before working at Utah State Board of Education, Sheryl taught in Philadelphia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. While in D.C., she played an integral role in helping her school move from the second-lowest performing position in the district to become the first school out of priority/turnaround status.
Sheryl received an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in Communications and Sociology. She was part of the Washington D.C. region of the 2008 Teach for America Corps and obtained a master's degree from George Mason University in Early Childhood Education.
Sheryl resides in Utah with her family.
An Essay By Sheryl
Few of us can resist the salty, crispiness of a potato chip. In 2020, Americans collectively spent $8 billion on them. Did you know that the beloved potato chip was invented by George Crum, a Black chef from New York in the mid-1800s?
Black people have invented many items used daily. Garrett Morgan, for example, invented the first traffic signal, the precursor to 3-colored traffic lights. Lisa Gelobter, a software engineer, developed the foundational animation for GIFs—the preferred text response when an emoji isn’t quite enough.
With Black History Month around the corner, here are 4 suggestions for honoring the sacrifices of Black people, past and present, while also celebrating their immeasurable contributions to the dream that is the United States of America.
1. Acknowledge That Black History Is All Our History.
Accept that enslaved Black people built America's foundational wealth. Recognize that the social and economic inequalities faced by many Black people today are not new but the result of ongoing institutional policies born from slavery.
2. Visit an African American History Museum
Today there are 109 such museums in 33 US states, 12 of which can be visited virtually. You can Google, "Virtual African American Museum Tours," or visit any of the following Museums:
- The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center)
- Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
- International Civil Rights Center & Museum
- The Museum of African American Art
- Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
- Dance Theater of Harlem
3. Support Black-Owned Businesses Doing Anti-racism Work
Jasmine Bradshaw, for example, is a Black podcaster and creator of @firstnamebasis, an anti-racist podcast for parents and families. Jasmine provides resources on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a free Race Talk Roadmap, Book recommendations, and more.
4. Advocate for the Celebration of Black History Month in Schools
Offer to purchase books with Black characters to diversify classroom libraries.
Celebrate Black History Month Throughout the Year
Although February is officially designated as Black History Month, remember that every day is Black history.
A Note From Nena & Co.
As Nena & Co. continues to grow, we stay committed to educating and doing better! Our mission is to follow ethical business practices and create sustainable income opportunities for Nena & Co. Artisans while creating high quality bags, accessories, and home goods.
We remain steadfast in our values of welcoming the diversity of perspectives, investing into our communities, collaborating with diverse influencers and brands, and training our employees. We thank you for your love and support, and Happy Black History Month!