The Significance of Black History Month to Norwescap

The origins of Black History Month can be traced back to the efforts of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a Black historian, and educator, who, in 1926, established “Negro History Week” to promote the study of Black history in American schools. The second week of February was chosen to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both of whom had a profound impact on African American history.

Over time, Negro History Week evolved into Black History Month, officially recognized in various countries. It provides an opportunity for people to learn about and appreciate the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the Black community, fostering understanding, respect, and equality. Throughout February, various events, educational programs, and initiatives take place to commemorate and explore Black history and its ongoing significance. 

At Norwescap, our mission revolves around strengthening communities by creating pathways that enhance the lives of those facing economic challenges, and our vision is to contribute to the development of a community that turns poverty into opportunity.  

Established in 1965 during the Johnson administration’s “War on Poverty” and inspired by the advocacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. The mission and vision of Norwescap align with the origins and purpose of Black History Month. Seeking to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Black individuals and communities, acknowledging their resilience and achievements despite historical and systemic challenges. Norwescap’s mission to strengthen communities by creating pathways that enhance the lives of those facing economic challenges directly addresses the disparities and economic struggles that many Black individuals have historically faced. 

As we observe Black History Month, it provides us at Norwescap with a special occasion to celebrate and acknowledge the remarkable contributions, achievements, and rich history of Black individuals. By recognizing and honoring this history, we aim to foster a sense of inclusivity and diversity not only within our organization but also within the communities we are privileged to serve. 


In honor of Black History Month, our Traditions Family Success Center and Pathways 2 Prosperity programs have opportunities for individuals to volunteer or engage in the Black History Month activities happening right here at Norwescap! The Norwescap Traditions Family Success Center provides a range of programs and services dedicated to supporting families in Warren County, fostering their success and well-being. The goal is to enhance the quality of life for both children and adults, strengthening families and communities. Through empowerment and assistance, we strive to enable every family to thrive. Family Partners collaborate with individuals and families, assisting them in identifying their needs and facilitating connections to the resources available to them. Traditions Family Success Center will host  Virtual Family Night, Trivia & Games, Family Craft Night!, Let’s get Creative!, and Movies on Main! All in honor of Black History Month. 

EPIC art gallery photo

Our Pathways 2 Prosperity program is hosting,  EPIC Youth Building an Anti-Racist World and EPIC Art Gallery.  

We, in our Pathways 2 Prosperity program, are thrilled to announce the upcoming events – EPIC Youth Building an Anti-Racist World and the EPIC Art Gallery

EPIC Youth Building an Anti-Racist World is a gathering for teens aged 13-18 interested in activism and the arts. We meet every Tuesday from 6-8pm to share dinner and engage in dialogue while creating art that celebrates diversity, uniqueness, and equality. This group is all about Education, Participation, Intention, and Courage (EPIC). 

Additionally, we invite you to join us for the EPIC Art Gallery on February 27th from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at the Sparta United Methodist Church, 71 S. Sparta Avenue, Sparta, NJ 07871. This groundbreaking program aims to empower BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) youth and allies in our local community to confront racism through education, dialogue, and artistic expression.  

The EPIC Art Exhibition will showcase the creative works of these youths, and it will travel to schools, organizations, and faith-based congregations throughout Sussex County. This initiative engages students, teachers, staff, and community members in the anti-racist movement, emphasizing the enduring relevance of Dr. King’s message. We are grateful for the support of the MLK Foundation via the New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, making EPIC possible. Join us in building an anti-racist world through Education, Participation, Intention, and Courage (EPIC). 

These activities can help educate individuals about the historical significance of Black History Month, highlight the contributions of Black individuals, and create spaces for dialogue and understanding. We can’t wait to see you there! 


The Sum of Us book

Our Norwescap Board comprises 15 dedicated individuals, each representing the five counties in New Jersey where the majority of our services are based. Our board operates on a tripartite structure, ensuring equal representation from the communities we serve, which includes current or former program participants, as well as at-large members and individuals nominated by local officials. 

One distinctive aspect of our board is the creation of a sub-section known as the Board Advocacy Committee for Anti-Racist Work. This committee is committed to fostering anti-racist initiatives within our organization. As part of their efforts, they have established a book club. For the month of February, the committee is delving into “The Sum of Us” by Heather McGhee, using this insightful read to further their understanding and engagement in anti-racist work. This initiative reflects our commitment to continuous learning and growth for a more inclusive community.  


Norwescap is not alone in marking Black History Month. The NAACP of Hunterdon County, Flemington Borough Council, Love Flemington, and the Hunterdon County Anti-Racism Coalition, are gearing up to celebrate and commemorate Black History Month. This event will feature an exploration of African American history and arts with honorary presenters Princess Gamble from Howard University, along with Elaine Buck, Beverly Mills, and Iby lkotidem. 

Join on Saturday, February 24th, 2024, at Stangl Factory, 4 Stangl Road, Flemington, NJ 08822, starting at 5:30 PM. The event is free admission, open to the public, and families are welcome. Experience the richness of African American culture and arts through food, music, and dance expressions. 


Norwescap is unwavering in its commitment to championing anti-racism. We have solidified this commitment through the adoption of an Anti-Racism Resolution, acknowledging that racism is morally wrong and repugnant. Understanding the inextricable link between addressing racism and eradicating poverty, we are dedicated to the internal work required to align with our resolution

Deeply rooted in a history that spans decades, the rich legacy of Black history has profoundly influenced the formation of Norwescap, emerging in response to societal challenges. We invite you to actively engage in the commemoration of Black history with us. Consider participating in our upcoming events or collaborative efforts. Embrace the opportunity to expand your understanding through involvement in reading, education, or active participation, mirroring the commitment demonstrated by our board. Join us in fostering a culture of anti-racism as we collectively strive for a more inclusive and enlightened community. 

by Ashley Neal- updated 2/12/2024