BLACK HISTORY MONTH IS THE REMEMBRANCE OF NOTABLE 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 HISTORIAN CARTER G. WOODSON. HE CHOSE THE SECOND WEEK IN FEBRUARY BECAUSE IT MARKED THE BIRTHDAYS OF TWO AMERICANS WHO GREATLY INFLUENCED THE LIVES AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS: FORMER PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND ABOLITIONIST AND FORMER SLAVE FREDERICK DOUGLASS.
Ruffles, Giant and the Washington Wizards are proud to honor the great and countless contributions of African Americans. In addition to events throughout the community, the wizards will spotlight and honor various African Americans making a positive difference in their communities. The spotlights will take place during four Wizards home games in February. The Wizards will honor individuals that are making a difference in their communities using the pillars supported by the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation. The five pillars are hunger and homelessness, military and veteran, health and fitness, education and youth basketball.
Black History Spotlight Honoree: Rochelle Coleman
Game Date: 2/1/18 vs. Raptors
MSE Pillar: Youth Basketball
Rochelle Coleman is a Washington, DC area native from Burtonsville, Maryland. She attended Syracuse University for her undergrad where she was also a member of the women’s basketball team. Rochelle received her Master’s Degree from Slippery Rock University and also served as a graduate assistant coach for the women’s basketball program. In May 2015, Rochelle became part of PeacePlayers International (www.peaceplayers.org).
Rochelle began as a Project Coordinator for the Washington, DC Leadership Development Program, where she worked with a group of youth from the Washington, DC area. Rochelle led weekly basketball and leaderships training, a variety of service projects and two visits to PeacePlayers International sites. Currently, Rochelle is a Program Manager overseeing the development of PeacePlayers new domestic sites, serving Baltimore as well as working on numerous technical assistance projects domestically and internationally.
Founded in 2001, PeacePlayers is globally recognized for uniting divided communities through basketball. PeacePlayers offers sport programming, peace education, and leadership development to those living in communities in conflict. In 2017, PeacePlayers launched year-round programming in the United States with a focus on changing perceptions and building youth leaders through the power of sport. PeacePlayers is working to expand opportunities and support for youth and their communities, including local law enforcement, and is currently operating year-round programs in Baltimore, Brooklyn, and Detroit. Through an innovative program guided by core peacemaking principles, PeacePlayers has been joining communities through sport for over 15 years in some of the world’s toughest areas, including the Middle East, South Africa, Northern Ireland and Cyprus.
Black History Spotlight Honoree: Sherman Gillums Jr.
Game Date: 2/8/18 vs. Celtics
MSE Pillar: Military and Veterans
Sherman Gillums Jr. served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Persian Gulf War and Global War on Terror eras, starting in 1990 at age 17. During his 12-year military career, he was meritoriously promoted to the rank of staff sergeant in 1999 and was commissioned an officer in 2001. He was honorably discharged in 2002 following severe injury, after which he went on to pursue a new career in veteran advocacy.
In 2004, Sherman began his work as a champion for severely wounded veterans as a VA benefits claims expert in San Diego, where he assisted veterans, families, and survivors with fighting for their entitlements. He later worked as an appellate representative at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC, and he became the executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America in January 2016. He recently joined American Veterans, also known as AmVets, as the organization’s new Chief Strategy Officer. A well respected commentator with an ability to “move the needle” on veterans issues, Sherman has written opinion editorials for the NY Times, The Hill, and Task & Purpose publications. He has testified before Congress as an expert witness on veterans benefits and has appeared on CNN, Fox, CBS News, and C-SPAN. Today, he serves as Vice Chairman on the Federal Advisory Committee for Veterans’ Family, Caregiver, and Survivor and a Consumer Reviewer for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.
Sherman is a graduate of University of San Diego's School of Business Administration and completed his executive education at Harvard Business School.
Black History Spotlight Honoree: Linda Goler Blount
Game Date: 2/25/18 vs. Sixers
MSE Pillar: Pediatric Health & Fitness
Linda Goler Blount joined the Black Women’s Health Imperative as the president and chief executive officer in February 2014. As president and CEO, Linda oversees the strategic direction for the Imperative and is responsible for moving the organization forward in its mission to achieve health equity, as well as reproductive justice for Black women. Before joining the Imperative, Linda served as the vice president of programmatic impact for the United Way of Greater Atlanta, where she led the effort to eliminate inequalities in health, income, education and housing through place- and population-based work.
Prior to that position, Linda was the first-ever national vice president of health disparities at the American Cancer Society. There, she was responsible for providing strategic vision and leadership to the Society and its 12 geographic divisions to reduce cancer incidence and mortality among underserved populations and to develop a nationwide health equity policy. With more than 25 years of experience in the public, for-profit and nonprofit sectors, Linda has a distinguished career that includes successful tenures at The Coca-Cola Company, leading strategic business initiatives, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as an expert scientist. She also has extensive international health expertise and has served as a consultant to government ministries in Germany, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, where she lived for four years.
Linda is a sought-after speaker and a member of the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Health Services Executives. She serves on the Community Health Charities Board, the University of Michigan School of Public Health Summer Enrichment Program Board and is past chair of the University of Michigan School of Public Health Alumni Board of Governors. She previously served on the Emory University Center for Ethics Advisory Board, and the Morehouse School of Medicine Public Health Program Advisory Committee.
A Michigan native, Linda holds a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering/Operations Research from Eastern Michigan University.
Black History Spotlight Honoree: Diane Roberts
Game Date: 2/28/18 vs. Warriors
MSE Pillar: Education
Diane Roberts currently serves as a vice principal at Thomas Stone High School, in Waldorf, MD. Diane has served as vice principal since 2013, when she was appointed the position. Prior to this appointment, Diane served as a high school resource teacher at North Point High School, where she also was a business education teacher. Diane started teaching in Charles County Public Schools in 2003 as a business education teacher at Thomas Stone High School; where she served as the sponsor for Future Business Leaders of America and DECA, an association of marketing students.
Diane’s passion for education started 22 years ago, when she first started teaching in 1996, on the South Side of Chicago. In her hometown of Chicago, Diane taught at a transitional school and Simeon High School.
Throughout her career in education, Diane has mentored high school girls; encouraging them not to settle for less than their worth and to be that change they want to see in others. Diane’s passion for education has always been on the forefront of her heart; earning undergraduate and master degrees from Chicago State University and McDaniel College. Education is the one of the pillars Diane emphasizes to her three children, who all currently work in Baltimore City Public School and Charles County Public Schools. Diane wants every student she encounters to know they are valuable, appreciated, and loved; giving them the charge to defy stereotypes and to not be ashamed of the calling on their lives.