It’s Black History Month, a federally recognized, nationwide celebration that calls on all Americans to reflect on the significant contributions African Americans have played in shaping U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

This year’s Black History Month theme, “African Americans and the Vote,” is designed to honor the centennial anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) granting women’s suffrage and the sesquicentennial of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) giving Black men the right to vote. 

UMOJA Magazine is fortunate to have on this month’s cover a photograph of a mural that the respected and highly acclaimed local artist, Jerry Jordan, painted titled “Legacies”. It showcases 37 legendary people who have played pivotal roles in shaping Black history in Madison. 

The piece is breathtaking. Unveiled in the fall, the 10-foot-by-5-foot oil painting is nestled in an alcove on the lower level of Madison College’s new Goodman South Campus. As word traveled about the important artwork, it has become one of the most photographed murals in Dane County. 

This edition of UMOJA includes an interview with Mr. Jordan who shares what inspired him to paint the tribute to Black Madisonians, among other things. Articles of events commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. around Dane County are also inside. 

If you haven’t had a chance to travel to Washington, D.C. to tour the National Museum of African American History and Culture, we’ve got a travel piece that will tempt you to go sooner, rather than later. 

On a different note, shortly before going to press, the country learned about the untimely deaths of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. The two were aboard a helicopter that crash in Calabasas, California. To say it shook me to my core would be an understatement. For me, it was a reminder that we can’t take our lives for granted. Not for a moment. 

Here’s something I spotted on an Instagram posting that I hope will serve as a reminder: 

Make moments count.
Make priorities.
Make the time.
Make your gifts known.
Make a nobody feel like a somebody.
Make your voice heard.
Make the small things big.
Make someone smile.
Make the change.
Move love.
Make up.
Make peace.
Make sure to tell your people
they are loved.
Make sure to have no regrets.