Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Black History Month: Commemorations and Vision-Related Resources

This year’s celebration of Black History Month, in February, highlights the theme of “African Americans in the Arts.” Carter G. Woodson, who established the monthly commemoration in 1926, “realized the importance of providing a theme to focus the attention of the public.” His intent was not to “dictate or limit the exploration of the Black experience, but to bring to the public’s attention important developments that merit emphasis.” The 2024 theme serves to convey the African American influence in arts in the U.S., including visual and performing arts, literature, fashion, folklore, language, film, music, architecture, culinary, and other forms of cultural expression. To learn more about Black History Month, its origins, and themes, visit the website for the ASALH (Association for the Study of African American Life and History).

Virtual Black History Month Events

During the next few weeks, this Bulletin will feature events and other informational pieces related to the themes of Black History Month in the vision community. Two upcoming virtual activities are described below.

On February 10, 2024, from 10:30 to 11:30 am ET, a Black History Month Online Book Discussion Group will be offered by the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library of the New York Public Library (NYPL). The book featured this month is The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride, an author, musician, and screenwriter. For additional details and a registration link, visit the NYPL Online Book Discussion Group webpage. To learn more about the author, visit the website for James McBride.

On February 14, 2024, from 10 am to 11 am Pacific Time (1 to 2 pm ET), Library 101: Celebrate Black History, offered by the Braille Institute, will feature a discussion about books by African American authors, highlighting the writings of Maya Angelou, Octavia Butler, and Langston Hughes. The event will take place online and in person in Los Angeles. For more information and a registration link, visit the webpage for Library 101: Celebrate Black History.

“Eye Health, My Health” Eye Health Campaign: Focusing on How Eye Disease Affects Black/African American Communities

“A focus on your eyes can change your life,” according to the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Eye Health, My Health, NEI’s eye health campaign for African American communities, “promotes eye health as an important part of overall health.” NEI explains that some health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, can increase the risk of developing certain eye diseases. Black/African American people are at higher risk for some eye conditions, like cataract, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Many of these eye conditions do not have symptoms in their early stages. Taking preventive steps, such as getting a dilated eye exam, can protect eye health and prevent vision loss. The Eye Health, My Health campaign aims to “promote eye health as an important part of overall health for Black/African American communities.” It builds on the previous “Write the Vision” campaign. To help spread the word, NEI provides fact sheets, a suggested “family conversation starter,” and tips for finding help to pay for eye care. Social media resources to increase awareness are available as well. A workgroup of NEI’s National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) is involved in the campaign. Among the participating groups are, the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging, Inc., National Medical Association, and National Optometric Association, to name a few. Learn more about the campaign on NEI’s webpage describing Eye Health, My Health. Additional background information is also available on the webpage on Eye Health Among Black/African American People.