During Black History Month, AARP Highlights Local Leaders Helping Communities Thrive

Posted on 02/02/22

With an ongoing pandemic looming in the background and the need to bridge deep divides around racial and social injustices, this Black History Month provides an important and timely platform to remember and celebrate the contributions of Black Americans to their communities and our nation.

In that spirit, AARP is highlighting a number of people who are building up their communities around the nation, proving that the efforts of one person can truly make an impact. And AARP believes that when we unite for the greater good, we thrive together!

Take Michelle Evans Oliver, for example. The president of the Richmond, VA, chapter of The Association for the Study of African American Life & History (ASALH), partnered with AARP Virginia to amplify Black History Month efforts by organizing walking tours and genealogy services for the community. Michelle’s leadership within the very same organization that the “Father of Black History” Carter G. Woodson founded in 1915 is uniting the community around contemporary goals while connecting Black Virginians with their roots, recognizing that knowledge of their origins offers people a renewed sense of identity. 

Because of the struggles Black Americans have faced, compassion for the needs and humanity of other groups is commonplace. The idea that a strong village supports other underserved communities is prevalent amongst Black leaders, and retired Marine Corps veteran Curtis “Gunny” Jones is a prime example. 

A tireless advocate for veterans, Gunny devotes his time to service people whether their needs are financial, physical, or medical. An active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Fleet Reserve Association, Disabled American Veterans, and a post commander for the American Legion Cook-Pinkney Post 141, he selflessly works to ensure that his fellow men and women of the armed services are not robbed of their dignity. 

As we embark on February, let’s look for ways to support, acknowledge, and celebrate our community’s leaders who are committed to the work of bringing us together to transform, uplift, and educate our communities. Take some time to read about other leaders that AARP is spotlighting, including Purpose Prize winner Raymond Jetson and other nationally recognized leaders, and check for local volunteer service opportunities to help improve your own communities.

If you’re looking for additional ways to celebrate Black History Month with others, check out AARP’s event schedule for virtual events like a soulful dance party, a concert featuring Howard Hewett and lectures on topics like the history of Motown and the story of Tinner Hill, VA, where the first rural branch of the NAACP was established.

Above all, let’s find ways to celebrate the beauty of the African American journey, not only during Black History Month but all year. After all, new “history” is made every day by us all.

Celebrate Black History Month With Us!

More from AARP in your Community

AARP Member Card

Join or Renew Today


  • Immediate access to your member benefits
  • Discounts on travel and everyday savings
  • Subscription to the award-winning AARP The Magazine
  • An ally on the issues that matter most to you in Your Community
  • Free membership for your spouse or partner