February Perspectives – by Vincent Ivan Phipps

BLACK HISTORY MONTH
VALENTINE’S DAY

Editor’s Note: February commemorates and celebrates American history and culture.  Here are two aspects of this month in the words of one of the best speakers and communication coaches in the country, Vincent Ivan Phipps. The first of his essays looks at the history of Black History Month. The second looks at Valentine’s Day with advice we can all use to our own benefit and that of our loved ones. 

Why is Black History Month in February?

Thank the ASNLH, Association for the Study of Negro Life and History!  In 1916 an American historian, Carter G. Woodson, began editing this organization’s primary scholarly publication called the Journal of Negro History. In 1924, as a member of the historically Black fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, Woodson used the platform of his fraternity to introduce Negro History and Literature Week.  In 1926, Woodson and the ASNLH inaugurated Negro history week in February 1926 which eventually parlayed into National Negro Month or to what it is called today, Black History Month.

But hold on!  Why February?    Woodson wanted to honor to influential people who were both born in February.  The first, was President Abraham Lincoln, born on February 12.  President Lincoln signed a presidential treaty in 1863 that lead to the discontinuation of slavery called the Emancipation Proclamation.  The second other person was a former slave turned Abolitionist, named Frederick Douglass who was born on Valentine’s Day, February 14. The month of February was selected to honor their legacies and bring attention to these two prominent historical figures.

The sacrifices made almost a century ago, are still resonating in our companies and organizations today.  Regardless of your race, gender, or age, Black History Month can be celebrated by all Americans because it is the contributions of Black Americans that help to make our country historical.

Valentine’s Day:
Those We Love are Those That Listen.

February 14 is traditionally reserved for expressing our love. How much can you put a price tag on love?  According to RecordOnLine.com, retail companies are counting on us showing how much we love buy measuring how much we spend with an estimated 20 billion dollars being spent on Valentine’s day in 2020!

Instead of the candies, flowers, perfumes, jewelries, dinners, hotel reservations, and more; let’s give one of the best expressions of affection – give the gift of listening.

Promise to give to those you love, your full attention.  Tell them you will listen to anything they want to discuss. Promise them to avoid interruptions, ridicules, or judgments.  Avoid offering any additional information that you feel might be helpful.  Just give an amazing gift of recognition and attention. 

As a communication consultant, business owner, employer, professor, author, husband, and father, I get a lot of practice listening.  Truth be told, I am still working on solutions for a ton of my own listening mistakes.  Here are three strategies you can do to give the gift of listening to those you love.

  1. Ask intriguing questions that generate positive discussions.
  2. Stop asking only “yes” or “no” questions and ask questions that welcome conversation.
  3. Don’t interrupt them when they are speaking.  Allow them to finish without challenging.

Editor’s Note: I hear you, Vincent! And I think I’ll just turn off my phone and computer on Valentine’s Day and take a long stroll in the park with my sweetheart. I suspect I’ll meet you and yours doing the same.

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