“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished, lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” – Carter G. Woodson, Black American Historian
Each February, our nation observes Black History Month, where we honor and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of Black Americans who have guided and impacted our country’s growth, progress, and culture.
Throughout our history, the YMCA has worked to meet the ever-changing needs of our diverse communities and provide a place where people of all backgrounds can gather to create positive social changes. The Y has been privileged to support Black American leaders who have moved our country forward and continue to recognize the alignment of equality for all with our mission.
The Power of Stories
This year, as we endeavor to continue our legacy, we recognize the Power of Stories. Stories record and relay those impactful tales of disappointment and perseverance; of struggle and triumph. Those stories move, motivate, and uplift the human spirit. Those stories resonate deeply and connect us to the commonality of the human experience.
Stories are powerful because words convey emotions and emotions evoke imagery. The best ones can sweep you away from the singularity of yourself and connect you deeply to others through experience and compassion. It is in this connection—this unique human ability to be connected—that we can find strength, empathy, and love for each other.
Stories of Renewed Hope
In the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Austin School Board was running an election. Enter one Wilhelmina Delco-an an educated Black wife and mother, who won the first seat ever by a Black Person in 1968, only a mere 3 days after that fateful day. Now, a local treasure and living legend, she can still be seen swimming at the East Communities YMCA. I have had the privilege to talk with her many times. I asked her once, why she fought so hard here—after all, Austin is not her native city (or state). She explained to me that they were simply fighting for hope—hope that their students [the collective Black children] would be able to receive an education that was comparable to non-black students in Austin. Hope that Dr. King’s dream could be realized right here in Austin. Because of her daring hope, the Honorable Mrs. Delco went on to become the first Black person elected in an at-large race in Travis County that put her in the Texas Legislature for ten terms, a founding member of the Austin Community College Board, and the namesake of numerous civics buildings in the state. She is a living testament to the power of hope, even after tragedy.
The YMCA of Austin is hopeful. Hopeful that work started long ago for equality and equity for all will continue. We are hopeful that you will join us in this work. We invite you to share your stories of how your hope For All has been restored. In support of our unwavering dedication to strengthen communities, we celebrate Black History Month. These stories ignite inspiration. The stories restore hope, and these stories are stories of our nation—our collective biography and history.