Celebrating Black History Month


At Brightlane Learning, we’re dedicated to providing spaces and opportunities for our community to listen to, learn from, share, and celebrate Black Americans’ history, accomplishments, and voices throughout the year. In honor of Black History Month, we’re sharing why recognizing and celebrating this history is important, providing resources to learn about the contributions of Black Americans throughout history, and highlighting the accomplishments and contributions of two Brightlane supporters.

Why is Black History Month important?

Black History Month originally began as Negro History Week in 1926, a creation of Carter G. Woodson, also known as “the father of Black history.” Woodson was an American historian, scholar, and founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). He envisioned a weeklong celebration to educate and promote Black history and culture by promoting the teaching of Black history in schools and increasing the nation’s consciousness on the contributions of Black people. Woodson understood that for Black youth to thrive beyond their situations, they needed to understand the contributions that their ancestors had made to this country.

The first Negro History Week was celebrated during the second week of February in 1926. Woodson chose that particular time since the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, who were both influential in the emancipation of people who were enslaved, fall within that week. Soon acceptance grew of the celebration, and by the mid-1960s, there were demands from college students for Black History courses and the extension of Negro History Week to become a month-long celebration. Due to those demands, the ASALH pushed for the federal government to make the month of February the official national observance of the contributions of Black Americans to the United States and the world.

In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially established February as Black History Month. During his speech, he asked the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Ten years later, Congress passed a joint resolution that designated February as National Black History Month. Later that year, President Ronald Regan issued the Presidential Proclamation 5443, which noted that the purpose of Black History Month is to “make all Americans aware of the struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.”

Each year since 1976, every American president in conjunction with the ASALH selects a theme for Black History Month. This year’s theme is Black Resistance, the exploration of how Black Americans “have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially with racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms, and police killings” throughout our nation’s history.

Source here, here, and here


How can you observe Black History Month?

Black history is American history. In observance of Black History Month, we recommend using some of the following resources to learn about the contributions of Black Americans throughout history.


  • Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Across the Tracks: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street, and the Tulsa Race Massacre by Alverne Ball
  • The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein





Meet LaToya Black – Brightlane staff member and longtime supporter

LaToya Black, MA.Ed is a relational, resilient, and results-driven education leader. Raised by a single mother in the inner city of Indianapolis, LaToya attended and graduated from Indianapolis Public Schools, where she indirectly discovered her passion for teaching through several highly effective, supportive, and nurturing Black female educators.

LaToya started her professional education career as an adjunct instructor at the University of Phoenix – Indianapolis Campus. In 2011, she joined Goodwill Education Initiatives (GEI) as an ELA instructor at The Excel Center. There, LaToya developed and enhanced her instructional skills and delivery, cultural pedagogy, social-emotional intelligence, and leadership capacity that helped students meet academic goals and graduate with a CORE 40 diploma and in-demand certifications. In 2015, LaToya was promoted to lead teacher and helped to found and open The Excel Center – Noblesville. In 2016, LaToya became the school leader of Marion Academy, a public charter turnaround school that welcomed students with challenging behaviors to give them a second chance. LaToya has also served in schools as a director of student services, assistant principal, as well as a youth programming chair in her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.

LaToya holds an undergraduate degree in Mass Media Arts from the historically black Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia. She also holds two master’s degrees: Journalism/News Sequence from Ball State University, and Educational Leadership from Marian University. Currently, LaToya works as an instructional assistant throughout the city and as an Education Support Coordinator for Brightlane Learning.


Meet Jeremy Morris – Brightlane board member and volunteer tutor

Jeremy is heavily involved in the Indianapolis community with a special interest in the development of young minds and the city’s future. In addition to serving on the Brightlane Board of Directors and as a volunteer tutor for the last 4 years, Jeremy is active with a number of other organizations, including serving on the Board of Directors for Libada Dance Company, participating in service initiatives geared toward college readiness and career planning for current Indianapolis Public Schools Students, and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.

Professionally, Jeremy is an experienced trial attorney and has conducted over 15 complex felony jury trials in both state and federal court. Prior to joining his current employer, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, Jeremy was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Indiana. Known for his unique abilities for connecting with juries, Jeremy also served as an Assistant District Attorney in Fulton County (Atlanta), one of the busiest criminal court circuits in Georgia. While in this capacity, Jeremy prosecuted thousands of felony cases and conducted various types of complex jury trials.

Jeremy is also an Adjunct Law Professor at Indiana University McKinney School of Law teaching subjects in criminal law, ethics, and supervising externship placements. As a proud three-time alumnus of IU, Jeremy serves on the IU Board of Trustees.

This February, Jeremy has also been actively engaged with our annual fundraising and awareness campaign, Do the Bright Thing. He has raised nearly $5,000 to fight childhood homelessness!