SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Monday marks the first day of Black History Month, and across the country, people are raising awareness of the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the Black community.
Black History Month is a time for people to continue the collective journey of honoring and deepening our knowledge of the history and contributions of African Americans and people of African descent that have been marginalized because of our country’s legacy of slavery, and institutional and structural racism.
But some people are also celebrating the resilience of Black Americans who faced unprecedented challenges this past year. The coronavirus disproportionately impacted the Black community while highlighting long-standing inequities in healthcare.
The CDC reports Black Americans are dying at three times the rate of white Americans. In response, Thermo Fischer Scientific, a science equipment company, pledged $15 million for tests and equipment to historically Black Colleges and Universities in August 2020.
Despite ongoing efforts by San Diego county and health systems to roll out the new COVID-19 vaccine, experts say communities of color find it challenging to trust the system.
Data from the Pew Research Center shows that only 42% of Black Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine once it is available. In comparison, 61% percent of white, 63% of Hispanic, and 83% of Asian populations say they would get the vaccine. Not because they are anti-vaxxers. Instead, many attribute that number to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.
While battling a new pandemic, an old foe reared its ugly head again --racism.
San Diego County has declared racism a public health crisis, acknowledging a painful past for Black Americans still felt in the present day. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, motivated the Black Lives Matter movement during the summer months.
San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber was confirmed on Jan. 28 as the first Black Secretary of State in California's history.
"It’s OFFICIAL, my nomination for CA Secretary of State has been confirmed by the CA Legislature and my next step will be swearing in," Weber said in a Tweet. "I will be the 1st Black woman to serve in this role and only the 5th Black person to serve as constitutional officer ever."
It’s OFFICIAL, my nomination for CA Secretary of State has been confirmed by the CA Legislature and my next step will be swearing in.— Shirley Weber, PhD (@DrWeber4CA) January 28, 2021
I will be the 1st Black woman to serve in this role and only the 5th Black person to serve as constitutional officer ever #RepresentationMatters pic.twitter.com/uvMEY8zKLO
On a national level, a glass ceiling breaking when California Senator Kamala Harris became the first woman and person of color as Vice President. It's another historic moment to add to the long list of accomplishments to celebrate during Black History Month.
The theme for Black History Month 2021 is The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity and is set every year by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, an organization founded in 1915 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the famed African American historian known as the “Father of Black History.”