Celebrate Black history year-round
By Najja R. Orr, MBA, DBA, PCA President & CEO
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be 95 this year, if he were still alive. In honor of the great civil rights champion, we should continue to discuss his legacy and its impact on the world.
One of the best ways that we can continue the great work of Dr. King is to educate others about Black history in America and to advocate for equality in all ways of life.
While we’ve seen school districts across the country remove books that promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), it’s been the rich multiculturalism that has contributed to this country’s greatness. History, as it occurred, whether good, bad or indifferent, should be taught and discussed year-round so we don’t
repeat past mistakes.
The National Resource Center for Engaging Older Adults offers the following activity suggestions for Black History Month and beyond:
- Start conversations about Black history.
- Participate in activities to celebrate the culture of Black Americans, such as movies; art, music or cooking classes; or poetry readings.
- Visit Philadelphia’s museums or historic sites to learn about local Black history.
Dr. King’s vision for equality still has relevance. The following topics are of top interest and concern for older Philadelphians in 2024: health care and prescriptions, affordable housing, navigating technology, and resources to make ends meet. Among minorities, poverty is high and life expectancy is low. We are all called to work together to address these racial disparities.
The Advocacy Committee of Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s (PCA’s) Board of Directors has set as its top priorities to address the safety needs of older Philadelphians (exploring methods to reduce violence and to create livable/accessible communities), immediately followed by older Philadelphians’ need for better or more comprehensive health access and affordable housing and housing repairs.
Looking forward, Philadelphia’s new Mayor, Cherelle L. Parker, is set to address some of the greatest challenges facing the city, many of which also align with PCA’s priorities for older Philadelphians. Mayor Parker has stated that she seeks to make Philadelphia a safe, clean and environmentally friendly big city with economic opportunities for all who live and work here. The following three Executive Orders outline her top priorities:
- Declaring a public safety emergency: Includes developing a comprehensive plan to address public safety in our city.
- Ensuring a local government that is visible, responsive, and effective: Includes developing a comprehensive listing of all channels through which the City delivers services to the public and all specific services (other than social services) provided to individuals.
- Expanding economic opportunity for all by removing barriers to City employment: Includes eliminating degree-based requirements and written examinations.
As we look forward to the proposed improvements in our City, let’s reflect about the importance that Black history of the past, present and future has on our lives and society. Dr. King’s ideals remain relevant, as we continue his work to dismantle the many disparities in health, finances and opportunity that still exist for people of color.