Our Islands, Our Future

February has been a month dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating the past and current achievements of African Americans. Black History Month is an annual observance originated in the United States by Dr. Carter J. Woodson in 1926. Since 1976, every U.S. President has designated this month to honor the contributions and legacy of citizens of African descent across American history and society, including the fields of medicine, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, politics, military defense, music, art, and literature, and have shaped the world with courageous and selfless acts of service.

The African Americans On Maui Association (AAOMA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, enlightens and informs the community, the people of Hawaii, the nation and the world about the contributions and experiences of people of African descent. “Our aim is to foster and teach all people about our history, arts and culture,” said Sandra Shawhan, Vice President of AAOMA. “To achieve this goal, AAOMA promotes high quality research, cultural exhibits, arts, scholarships, and teaching of the African American experience. We sponsor a wide variety of programs on topics and issues that are critical for better understanding including events about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Black History Month, Juneteenth, Kwanzaa Programs, and more. We remain inclusive, never exclusive. We invite everyone to learn about the heritage and rich legacy of African Americans through networking, education and mentoring.”

Each year, Black History Month has a theme to focus the public’s awareness on a particular current issue. “The theme for 2022 is Black Health and Wellness,” Shawhan explained. “AAOMA hosted a Zoom presentation featuring well-known speakers and contributors to draw attention to health and wellness which is crucial for strength and resilience, especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic. On this topic, we explored the legacy and achievements of the forerunners who worked in the medical and health fields. We highlighted the current activities and initiatives that African American communities are engaged in to encourage good health and wellness—physically, mentally and spiritually. I am very pleased with our presence in the community and the events that we sponsor throughout the year.”

The AAOMA vision is to include and count all races and ethnicities and to be an outstanding regional resource for authentic African American historical information.

Sandra Shawhan, AAOMA Vice President