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In response to the proposal from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) that congregations focus on the dismantling of racism, the Adrian Dominican Sisters began by identifying resources that can assist us in raising our consciousness of white privilege and white supremacy, both personally and systematically.
Since January 2021, our Toward Communion: Undoing Racism and Embracing Diversity Committee and our Justice Promoters have collaborated on a project to provide information on prominent Black and Indigenous Catholics who have made significant contributions to the church and society, along with reflection questions and a prayer.
In May of 2022, Kevin D. Hofmann was named the founding Director of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion for the Congregation. With the goal of normalizing conversations about race and culture and discussing what it means to feel included and excluded, Kevin began contributing to this blog in June of 2022 and shares his unique experience of growing up Black in a white family in Detroit.
By Kevin Hofmann
Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion
In less than a week, we will launch Black History Month. I have mixed feelings about it. Part of me is upset that we have only 28 days to prove Black history is valid and worth studying. Part of me enjoys the attention given to people like me who have made monumental contributions to this country. Then part of me is sick of hearing about Martin, Malcolm, Rosa, Fredrick, James, Barack, Michelle, etc. We hear about the same few every year.
Each year, on February 1, my teacher would roll out the Black History Month kit that flashed bios of the same people, as if only a handful of Black people did anything noteworthy for this country. I would hear Martin’s “I Have a Dream” speech over and over, as if that was the only one he ever gave. I would hear about Eli Whitney and the cotton gin, Malcolm X and why he was a bad leader and a bad human, and of course, sister Rosa would be mentioned.
Then we would move into March and the promise of spring. The blooming of tulips washed away the Black historical figures for the year. We exhausted all the notable Black people in those 28 days, so only a rare few would garner attention outside of February.
As I started to pull out my Black History Month kit this year, I decided to do things a bit differently. I chose to highlight 20 people in U.S. history who happen to be Black. Each working day in February, I will highlight a Black woman who has helped shape this country into what it is today. I choose Black women because we don’t honor them enough. I chose women most of us have never heard of because they have not been honored enough.
It pains me to admit that of the 20 women I chose to highlight, I only know surface-level information on 10 of them. My hope is that we all can learn and be inspired by the contributions these women have made. My ultimate hope is that someday we will no longer need Black History Month because we have grown to understand that Black history is American history and we can study the contributions of Black people all year.
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Black Catholic Project posts
Hofmann's Equity & Inclusion posts
All blog posts
Printable bookmark of African Americans on their Way to Sainthood (PDF)
Black Catholic History page by Seattle University
Timeline from the National Black Catholic Congress
Sister Jamie T. Phelps, OP, discusses Black Catholics in America with Dr. Paul Lakeland for Fairfield University's "Voices of Others" video series
News report on one of the oldest Black Catholic parishes in the U.S., St. Elizabeth Catholic Church (formerly St. Monica) in Chicago, Illinois