President’s Corner February 2024

Celebrating Our Black History: Honoring Our Past, Shaping Our Future 

Dear Friends, 

As we embark on another Black History Month, I am reminded of the profound importance of understanding and celebrating the rich tapestry of our heritage. As the President and CEO of the Urban Leadership Foundation, dedicated to the development and empowerment of Black and African American leaders, I am deeply passionate about the significance of our history in shaping our present and future. 

Black History Month originated from the vision of historian Carter G. Woodson, who in 1926, sought to ensure the contributions of African Americans were recognized and celebrated throughout the nation. His tireless efforts paved the way for a month-long commemoration that serves as a beacon of resilience, triumph, and cultural pride for our community. 

One of the core principles of Black History Month is the acknowledgment of the struggles and sacrifices endured by our ancestors. Understanding the horrors of slavery and the injustices faced by generations of Black Americans not only serves as a testament to our resilience but also equips us with the knowledge and strength to confront the challenges of today. 

In the face of systemic injustices and societal inequalities, we must draw inspiration from the perseverance of those who came before us. As Maya Angelou eloquently stated, “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Our understanding of the past empowers us to dismantle oppressive structures and forge a more equitable future for generations to come. 

Central to our journey of empowerment is the recognition of the power of leadership. In times of uncertainty and division, we must embrace the principles of referent and expert leadership to guide our communities toward progress and unity. As Harriet Tubman famously declared, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” 

In a nation fraught with coercive and divisive leadership, it is incumbent upon us to heed the call for visionary and inclusive leadership. By amplifying our voices and leveraging our collective strength, we can challenge the status quo and cultivate a society rooted in justice, equality, and compassion. 

As we commemorate Black History Month, let us reaffirm that Black history is American history. Our journey toward liberation and equality is intertwined with the broader narrative of our nation, and as we continue to educate ourselves and others, we pave the way for a more just and equitable society. 

In the words of Angela Davis, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” Let us harness the spirit of resilience and determination that defines our community as we strive to create a future where every individual is valued, respected, and empowered to thrive. 

With gratitude and solidarity, 

Dr. Ryan Ross

ryan ross signature

President and CEO
Urban Leadership Foundation

Dr. Ryan Ross
Dr. Ryan Ross

Dr. Ryan E. Ross is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Equity, and Inclusion for the Colorado Community College System and President & CEO of the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado.