SOS Illinois and the new SOS Illinois Racial Justice Committee are honored to celebrate the history, stories, and voices of Black people. The celebratory month also known as National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans, and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in the story of the United States of America. We look forward to this journey of remembrance as our Villages come together to learn and celebrate through a series of events and workshops.
In our Villages, we prioritize Black History Month as an opportunity for learning and exploration for our children. It is vital to teach them about the accomplishments of prominent African American leaders and figures. It is also crucial to make a connection for our youth in identifying their own dreams and how they might contribute to the world around them with those aspirations.
This year, our Racial Justice Committee has created the most robust celebration that extends beyond the 28 days in February. This series of activities and events has been created so that the children and families, as well as staff at our Villages are able to make these very connections.
Black History Month Overview
Black History Month Activities & Events
The Racial Justice Committee has a number of events and activities for Black History Month. The purpose of many of these activities are to address issues of cultural awareness, impart valuable knowledge, provide safe social opportunities, and offer a powerful and revolutionary exploration of racism.
Origins of Black History Month
Each February, Black History Month honors the legacy, achievements, and contributions made by African Americans throughout United States history. The annual month of recognition, which holds roots to organizing efforts by Carter G. Woodson in 1915, was made official by U.S. President Gerald Ford in 1976. Upon his proclamation, Ford shared that Black History Month was meant to, “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” At SOS Illinois, we pay special tribute to Black History Month as we instill within our youth a spirit of reverence for the struggles and accomplishments of Black leaders, whose dedication to their fields of study and work continue to inspire our communities.
Formation of the SOS Illinois Racial Justice Committee
As our Villages and services continue to care for children and families of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, SOS Illinois is making the commitment to do more to provide diversity and inclusion training, workshops, and education for our Foster Parents and staff. As Chicago continues to be a primary focal point in the fight to eradicate racism – especially racism that affects Black children and adults – we recognize that it is important now more than ever to unify as a force aligned with anti-racism efforts in our city and beyond.
In response to this growing need, SOS Illinois had gathered a specialized Racial Justice Committee. The goal of this committee is to “advance the core mission of SOS Children’s Villages Illinois by critically assessing and creating strategies with a focus on innovative methods to create on-going plans for continued areas for education, training, and advocacy in areas of promoting equality, addressing racism and bias, and advocating for social justice reforms both within the organization and surrounding communities.” This committee, made up of staff and Foster Parents, will continue to work together on identifying the areas of greatest need within our organization and surrounding communities to address racial bias and intolerance, as well as to create opportunities for culture-sharing and respectful conversation.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The SOS Children’s Villages Illinois’ Racial Justice Committee has been working behind the scenes to determine the best approach SOS Illinois can take to address the issues we face today, in particular working to reunite families. The Racial Justice Committee recognizes the systems of inequity that disproportionately impact people of color; socioeconomic deprivation, poor education, and lack of access to resources. SOS Illinois recognizes the role this disparity plays in the dissolution of the family unit. We are therefore committed to mitigating these challenges in order to reunite families or ensure a permanent outcome for children where they can continue to grow and thrive. The SOS Illinois commitment is to support a process that ensures children find their “forever home.” SOS Illinois does so by building bridges between our biological parents and our Foster Parents throughout the communities we serve. The committee also serves the organization in discussions of ongoing topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Black History Month Social Media Awareness
In addition to the these events and activities in February, we will be sharing facts, statistics, and words of wisdom from figures in Black history across all our social media platforms. In particular, we will be promoting Black leaders in education, child welfare, and foster care who have helped pave the way for the mission and model of SOS Illinois. By doing so, we hope to empower our community, friends, and followers to continue working for racial justice, child rights and welfare, and the future of the foster care system. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest to help us celebrate this special month!
Championing SOS Illinois’ Young Dreamers
Another pivotal portion of each activity involved encouraging the children to think about and share their own dreams. They were also reminded they are capable of accomplishing and taking ownership of their dreams.
Join us in nurturing the children in our care further toward their aspirations and full potential. Learn more about becoming an SOS Children’s Villages Illinois Dream Maker.