Black History Month is a remembrance of important people and events in African-American history that has been celebrated annually in the United States in February since 1976.
The remembrance has its roots in 1926 by United States historian Carter G. Woodson. Woodson chose the second week of February because it marked the birthdays of two Americans who greatly influenced the lives and social condition of African Americans: former President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass.
The Wizards and Amtrak are proud to honor the great and countless contributions of African-Americans. In addition to events throughout the community the Wizards will spotlight and produce video vignettes honoring various African-Americans making a positive difference in their communities. These video vignettes will air during the first 7 Wizards home games in February. During the 8th and final Wizards home game of Black History Month the Amtrak Pioneer Award will be awarded to three individuals who made outstanding contributions to their communities.
The Wizards will primarily be honoring individuals that are making a difference in the fight against hunger and homelessness, who are helping support our active duty military personnel and veterans, who are working to promote health and fitness, who are driving and positive forces in youth basketball and who are helping others educate themselves.
Watch the latest videos below to learn more about our honorees and be sure to check back here throughout February to learn more about all of the Black History Month honorees.
Know someone in your community who you feel deserves to be recognized, please click here to complete the form.
James Barnes started coaching middle school boys basketball in 2001, and assisted with coaching with the Parks and Recreation sector for seven years. It was his god daughter who asked him to start a girls team that she could be a part of. Barnes created his own organization and AUU team, Southern Maryland Seminoles, for girls in Southern Maryland. He is currently working as a Computer Systems Analyst with Lockheed Martin at Patuxent River Naval Base and is in his second season as the Girls Junior Varsity head basketball coach and Varsity assistant coach at Chopticon High School in Morganza, MD.
Zadia Murphy a native of Atlanta, GA, describes her passion for fitness using 3 key words: contagious, inspiring , and indelible. As a fitness and nutrition enthusiast, she has an undeniable zeal for helping others achieve their goals. Ms. Murphy earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from the University of Houston. This is when she eagerly accepted her purpose in life: to educate the world on the significance of being physically fit, while maintaining a healthy diet and assist others to reach his/her maximum potential. She uses her experience and expertise to build programs that will facilitate in setting and accomplishing goals. She stands proud to work in her community and lead people to a healthier lifestyle and fitter self!
Tamara Perez is the Head Start Social Worker/Parent Involvement Coordinator at Bright Beginnings Inc. Child Development Center for homeless children and families in Northwest, Washington, D.C. and is a proud Washingtonian, born and raised in Southeast Washington. For the past 13 years, Tammy has dedicated her life’s work to helping children and families in the District of Columbia “weather the storm”. She has worked for a number of organizations such as For Love of Children (FLOC) Learning Center; Caesar Chavez Public Charter School; Children’s Choice Specialized Foster Care, Kinship, & Adoption Services; and the Perry School Social Services Center where she served as a Domestic Violence Case Manager. The heart of Tammy’s professional experience is creating support services for homeless families and their children. For Tammy, working with those who are homeless, especially small children, has been the most rewarding experience.
Cortni Grange and Sam Sesay
Future Leaders & Young Entrepreneurs (FLYE) was created by Cortni Grange and Sam Sesay, with the mission to equip minority males with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed in any arena of life through impactful programs. Their comprehensive program, School of Future Leaders and Young Entrepreneurs (SO FLYE), is comprised of many items not taught in a traditional classroom setting. Cortni Grange prides himself on converting knowledge into action. Having graduated from Florida A&M University's (FAMU) illustrious School of Business and Industry, the concept of professional development has been at the forefront of his success from day one of his professional career. Sesay received his Masters in Entrepreneurship from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. Instead of using his newfound knowledge to start his own company, Sesay wanted to inspire minority males to find their passion and pursue them. Sesay says, “minority males are behind the 8-ball from birth and many lack the resources and structure to succeed. The attack on our youth is evident, especially our African American males, but if we can impact as many young men as possible, our mission has been accomplished.“
Both founders graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, and wanted to guide young men in the right direction, so they can help realize and reach their full potential.
In 2013, Eunique launched the Because of Them, We Can™ campaign during Black History Month with a mission to empower the next generation to honor the legacy of their ancestors through their own individual pursuit of greatness through images that would refute stereotypes and build the esteem of our children. Because of Them, We Can™ quickly went viral and grew into something bigger than the twenty-eight day tribute she originally planned. It is now considered one of the most prolific and virally successful Black History campaigns of all time. In order to continue her efforts to contemporize Black History, Eunique left her job as an online marketing and social media manager to dedicate herself to the Because of Them, We Can™ movement on a full-time basis.
Bryan Barren has more than 30 years of active service in the United States Army. During his three decades of service, he has held a variety of jobs within the medical field from establishing a medical training program in Iraq to conducting medical assessments in Africa. He has on two previous occasions held medical positions in the Washington, DC area. None have been as humbling and passionate as his current position as the United States Army Physical Disability Agency (PDA), Sergeant Major. With two combat deployments, he understands the importance of taking care of our Soldiers that have fallen ill, become injured or wounded in the line of duty. He also recognizes the impact that a physical disability has on the Soldier’s family members. Of all his assignments, this is his most rewarding.
Educator and poet, Clint Smith, teaches English at Parkdale High School in Prince George’s County, MD. In the classroom, Mr. Smith combines his passion for poetry and justice to teach students the importance of their own stories as catalysts for meaningful social action. Outside of the classroom, he serves as the school’s slam poetry coach and is the founder of Collective Voices for Justice, which empowers and trains students to become community organizers. In 2013, Mr. Smith was named the Christine D. Sarbanes Teacher of the Year by the Maryland Humanities Council.