Celebrating and honoring Black history in Kansas

February is Black History Month. It’s a time we can reflect, learn and appreciate the significance Blacks and African Americans have made in our country.

Our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) team worked with employees to create a Black History Month Committee to produce ideas and ways to celebrate Black History Month. This year they decided to focus on Black History in Kansas.

To showcase Black History in Kansas, we have turned our main lobby into a museum. There is a display case that features prominent Black Kansans and allies alongside descriptions about their contributions to our culture and history. The most common statement heard around the display is, “I didn’t know they were from Kansas” or “I didn’t know that.” Did you know that Hattie McDaniel was from Wichita, Kansas and was the first African American to win an Oscar for her role in Gone with the Wind?

A presentation in the lobby, features information about Brown v. Board of Education, Nicodemus, and Bleeding Kansas. If you have the opportunity to visit Nicodemus National Historic Site, please do. It is the oldest and only remaining Black settlement west of the Mississippi River. You will learn about formerly enslaved African Americans who left Kentucky at the end of the of post-Civil War Reconstruction period to experience freedom in Kansas.

If you are in the Topeka area, feel free to stop by our main campus lobby during regular business hours to view the display during the month of February. We’d love to share this history with you.

There’s more that is being celebrated throughout the month to celebrate our employees’ culture and history. It’s important that each employee feels a sense of belonging and can bring their authentic self to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas.

Black History is a significant part in our country and state’s history and we are lucky to have some well-known names call Kansas home. From George Washington Carver who invented more than 300 products, John Brown who fought to make Kansas a free state, or those names we don’t know who risked their lives aiding former slaves through the underground railroad.

We should take pride in the contributions made by Kansans who have shaped Black History in our state. We encourage you to learn the history, honor it and be proud of it. Our goal is to make all our employees feel appreciated and valued every day and not just during a specific time.

Charles Morgan

Diversity, equity and inclusion manager

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