To commemorate the contributions that African Americans have made to our nation, Carter G. Woodson, American historian, established Black History Week. The first celebration occurred on Feb. 12, 1926. In 1976, as part of the nation's bicentennial, the week was expanded into Black History Month.
This year's theme is Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories. “The Association for the Study of African American Life & History has selected this annual theme to bring attention to the centennial celebration of the National Park Service and the more than twenty-five sites and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom that is part of America’s hallowed grounds...”( http://asalh100.org). As we embark on Black History Month, we recognize that these historical landmarks are important in telling the stories of African American history and their memories.
This spring, NHPCO and Morgan State University will offer non-credit courses focused on educating caregivers to make informed decisions about end-of-life care. NHPCO’s strategic plan includes expanding hospice and palliative care access to African American communities where a disparity of care exists. This collaboration between NHPCO and Morgan State University will help to move this important initiative forward.
The goal is that more African American patients, families and caregivers are able to have conversations, complete advance directives and become more informed decision-makers about end-of-life care. By having these conversations before a crisis occurs, families are able to create lasting memories and #moremoments with their loved ones.
As a mom, sister, daughter, niece and past caregiver, I understand the importance of having conversations about these issues. I constantly remind my children of my wishes and talk to them about their wishes. I don’t want them to be afraid to talk about death. Having that same conversation with my mom has not been so easy. Although she understands that these conversations need to happen, she still has a hard time taking the next steps. Being from a large African American family, with tons of baby boomer aunties, uncles and cousins, I am excited about NHPCO’s collaboration with Morgan State University. I know that the courses will help African American families similar to my own family, have a better understanding of end-of-life care. This collaboration will create awareness, educate and encourage African American families in the Baltimore community to be their own advocates. Thus, creating #moremoments like Hannabelle and Deadra stories that are showcased in NHPCO’s “Moments of Life” public awareness campaign.
Morgan State University is a Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) that is also known for its contributions to African-American history. As a HBCU, not only is its campus considered hallowed grounds but also, the city where it is located -- Baltimore. Founded in 1867 as the Centenary Biblical Institute by the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the institution's original mission was to train young men in ministry. It subsequently broadened its mission to educate both men and women as teachers. In 1939, Morgan State became a public institution.
As for the city of Baltimore, it is home to many notable African American sites including, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, The Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, and The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum.
NHPCO Senior Manager, Access Programs
NHPCO’s Cozzie King, second from left, shares her thoughts on African American History Month and the disparity of hospice care in the African American community.