Delaware County – February is when we celebrate Black History Month, a nationwide celebration that invites us to recognize and reflect on the contribution and sacrifices that African Americans have made to US history. The person who made this celebration possible was Carter G. Woodson, an African American historian, author, and journalist. He dedicated his life to studying, sharing, and preserving African American history. Mr. Woodson started this celebration because he felt that African American contributions to American History were being ignored. He believed that education and more frequent professional and social interactions between blacks and whites would result in a reduction of racism. In 1926 Woodson founded “Negro History Week”. In 1976 it became Black History Month.
African Americans have come further in the last 45 years than their ancestors ever dreamed. Still, a lot more work needs to be done to eliminate racism along with many other issues that affect the African American community.
To celebrate this month, we had a conversation with Diana Marie Washington, a 31-year-old, African American woman who was born in Abington, PA. Diane recently graduated from Temple University’s School of Public Health. Diane is accomplishing her purpose in life. Here is her story.
When you were a little girl what were your dreams? In what ways did your parents have an influence on who you are?
As a young child, my number one goal was to help others. It has always been important to me to make sure I can assist others in feeling safe and secure. I suppose you could say I unknowingly began to cultivate the mindset of a public health advocate at a young age. My mom has always encouraged me to follow my interests full force and my grandmother has always reminded me to remain strong in my faith to walk in my purpose.
What are your feelings about our ancestors going through slavery and creating a path for future generations not to experience the same thing?
The resilience that my ancestors demonstrated cannot be described in words, all I know is there is no room for excuses. I am forever grateful and forever indebted to them for the blood sweat and tears shed while paving for future generations to come.
What have been the hardest challenges that you have overcome? What did you do to become victorious?
Doubting myself and my ability to overcome challenges. I overcame this challenge by strengthening my faith.
Currently, as a community, do you think that African Americans have reached the goals they have dreamed about?
Not yet, institutional racism is a barrier that is embedded in our history. Racial profiling is a constant fear.
Do you feel proud of your roots? And why? How do you celebrate yourself and your community?
Absolutely, James Brown said it best “Say it loud! I am black and I am proud. Say it louder! I’m black and I’m proud” My roots are resilient; I remind myself that my ancestors did not have the option to back down from a challenge so neither will I.
If you had the opportunity to change the way things are happening in this country, what would you change and why?
Wow, this is a difficult question. Two main issues are Black maternal mortality rates and PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) because primary and secondary racial profiling need to be brought to the limelight. These are two major issues within the African American Community, they can be strategically addressed with community-based program planning efforts.
What does this phrase mean to you? “I’m my ancestors’ wildest dreams» and how has it helped you to manifest your own dreams?
My senior capstone was centered on stress coping skills in African American adults. I believe my ancestors would have never dreamed of being accepted into a University let alone making it a priority to highlight the health disparities within the African American community and how they can be addressed. I have been blessed with the freedom to express my concerns regarding institutional racism and apply my academic foundation to assist in addressing the impact on health outcomes in the African American Community.
What message would you like to share with young girls and boys who want to manifest their dreams like you?
Believe in yourself, set your intentions, and hold to them. There was a time when I considered changing my major because I feared taking any type of statistics related course, now I run to the challenge. The only thing holding you back is yourself.
What is next in your life?
In fall 2021 I will begin my MPH in Epidemiology. I am also studying to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam.
Thank you, Diana, for sharing with us your story.
If you would like to learn more about our topics connect with us in our social media channels “Manifestando Tus Sueños con Lili Daliessio or Latina Wellness Circle”.