This Black History Month, HuffPost Black Voices is declaring “We, Too, Are America” and we held an event in Harlem on Monday to acknowledge and celebrate this theme.
While black history is something we acknowledge all the time on HuffPost Black Voices, February is a time for us to double down on this mission and further amplify the experiences of black men and women who have helped to make America what it is.
This month, we’ve adopted and adapted the last line in Langston Hughes’ iconic poem “I, Too” to declare #WeTooAreAmerica. With it, we aim to reinforce a message that all black people ― including those who identify as Muslim, immigrant and queer ― are who help to define the identity of this country.
On Monday, we partnered with The Creative Collective NYC, a New-York based networking group for millennials of color who work in creative industries, to co-host an event at WeWork Harlem titled “ACTivism.” The event included a discussion moderated by myself with featured guests Bryan Terrell Clark ― an actor who currently stars in “Hamilton” on Broadway ― and Jennifer Epps-Addison ― an activist and the newly-named president for the national non-profit organization Center for Popular Democracy.
“Our guest speakers were two individuals who are black history in the making and between the wisdom they shared throughout the night to the undeniable positive vibes found in a room overflowing with melanin, it was truly an empowering experience,” Imani Ellis, the founder of The Creative Collective NYC, which prefers to be identified as theCCnyc, told The Huffington Post. “We wanted to curate a safe space for creatives of color to love on each other and build with each other—not just for black history month, but beyond.”
The event, which kicked off with a performance from poet and playwright Cyrus Aaron, included more than 80 millennials of color who work across various creative industries. Following the discussion, Black Voices invited attendees to participate in an activity in honor of Hughes’ and our campaign.
In printed copies of the last few lines of Hughes’ poem ― which reads “Besides, They’ll see how beautiful I am/ And be ashamed— I, too, am America,” we omitted the word “beautiful” and then asked attendees to fill in the blank with a word or phrase they believe best describes them.
Our goal with this initiative was to highlight how these young men and women of color each have qualities that make them beautiful and unique. Photographer ChiChi Agbim took images of 21 different New-York based millennials at the event, so we’re posting the pictures below to celebrate these influencers and have them serve as a source of inspiration for others: