Niagara Gazette

February 7, 2014

Mount St. Mary's recognizes Black History Month

Mount St. Mary's holds recognition ceremony Thursday

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Since the late 1970s, February has been recognized as Black History Month. Mount St. Mary’s again put its own stamp on celebrations with its annual lunch and recognition ceremony.

In the midst of song, poetry and lunch, the program’s organizing committee recognized the work of Kimberli Hicks, a supervisor in the environmental service department.

At first, Hicks said, she couldn’t figure out why.

“At first, I thought ‘Why me,’ “ she said. “I’ve only been here a short time. I started in April. But I thought about it and I wondered, ‘Why not me?’ “

Black History Month comes every February, honoring the voices of those who fought hard for equality, as well as those who struggled before it became possible.

For Daisy Waters, who served as keynote speaker at the luncheon presentation Thursday, this year is about recognizing the impact of history on the lives of people today. For instance, 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most monumental moments in the civil rights movement. Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., which served to integrate public schools by order of the Supreme Court, dealt a crushing blow to one of the most influential of the Jim Crowe laws of the south.

Waters, who arrived with her family in Niagara Falls from Montgomery, Ala. in 1952, said she also lived through the earlier moments of solidarity like the 1955 bus boycott that took her former home city by storm, a particularly important event in her own personal struggle.

“If we were still living in Montgomery, there’s no doubt I would’ve been immersed in that particular movement,” she said, adding she often spoke and acted to end less visible racism at home in Niagara Falls despite her parents wishing she would remain quiet.

And there was a lot of subtle discrimination against blacks in the northern states, she said. So much, she added, that it upset her parents.

Another person at the hospital who experienced the civil rights movement first hand was hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Judith Maness. She relayed the story of her father joining the fight for equal rights for blacks while she was growing up in Jacksonville, Fla.

“Those were hard times,” she said. “They’re still hard time. But they’re better times.”

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.