Black History Month Sees Trials, Triumphs After a Historic Year

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By Jessica Easthope 

The global pandemic COVID-19 has killed the father and grandfather of Detroit’s Keith Gambrell.

“It’s very frustrating, it’s heartbreaking. It’s bitter, it’s America.” Keith told Currents News. 

The virus has disproportionately impacted the Black community, highlighting long-standing inequities in healthcare.

The CDC reports Black Americans are dying at three times the rate of white Americans.

In response, Thermo Fisher Scientific, a science equipment company, pledged $15 million for tests and equipment to historically Black colleges and universities in August.

“This has gotten Black and brown researchers so excited, the community that’s given me so much growing up. It’s really important to see more testing efforts being brought to D.C.,” Micah Brown, a medical student at Howard university, told Currents News.

Then came the COVID-19 vaccines. But some Black people are hesitant to get the shot.

“We know that lack of trust is a major cause of reluctance especially in communities of color and that lack of trust is not without good reason, as theTuskegee Studies occurred in many of our lifetimes,” says Jerome Adams, a former U.S. Surgeon General.

While battling a new pandemic, an old foe reared its ugly head again: racism.

Several states have now declared racism a public health emergency, acknowledging a painful past for Black Americans that’s still felt in present-day.

People spilled into the streets demanding an end to police brutality and racial inequality.

“You must stand, you must fight, but not with violence” were voices channeling the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Big companies like Google and Yelp stepped up which was perfect timing for Black business owners that were shutting down in numbers twice as large as others during the pandemic, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

 In Mississippi, a nearly 40-year fight finally won to replace the Confederate-themed state flag.

“Black folks in this state…very proud,” said Reuben Anderson, the former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice. “Young black folk don’t have this flag to look to for the rest of their lives.” 

 In Georgia, they elected its first Black U.S senator and nationally, a glass ceiling breaking.

“I Kamala D. Harris do solemnly swear,” said Madame Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman and person of color as vice president.

It’s another historic moment to add to the long list of accomplishments celebrated during Black History Month.