View all InsightsTracey Kirui headshot on a orange background with poppy flowers and glitter circles
View all Insights

Celebrating Black History: A Reflection from Tracey Kirui

As we continue to honor Black History Month, we reflect on the resilience and wisdom of Black individuals and communities. Tracey Kirui, Hopelab’s Program and Strategy Lead, shares her inspiration from Civil Rights leader Marsha P. Johnson.

The following was written by Tracey Kirui and shared with the Hopelab staff. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Black History Month serves as a time for us to contemplate and celebrate the contributions of Black people to the culture, knowledge, and pivotal movements in the United States and worldwide. It also gives us a platform to recognize the accomplishments in the work to dismantle systems of structural and institutional racism. While Black History is inherently American history, this month provides a dedicated space to amplify our stories, pay homage to our ancestors, and recommit to the ongoing work ahead.

image of Marsha P Johnson on an orange gradient background with orange poppy flowers

Marsha P. Johnson

I would like to pay tribute to the life and legacy of Marsha P. Johnson, an iconic figure in the queer liberation movement and a Black transgender woman. The “P” in her name stands for “Pay It No Mind,” a response to questions about her gender that later became her life motto. Ms. Johnson played a crucial role in the gay rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, notably during the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 in New York City. Her outspoken advocacy against transphobia led her to co-found the Gay Liberation Front and the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), organizations offering vital support and resources to unhoused LGBTQ+ youth.

History isn't something you look back at and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, but those moments are cumulative realities.
Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha P. Johnson holding a sign saying "Power to the People" on an orange background

Marsha P. Johnson, “Power to the People”

While Ms. Johnson is primarily recognized for her LGBTQ+ rights activism, she also organized protests against oppressive policing and tirelessly advocated for sex workers, prisoners, the unhoused, and those living with HIV/AIDS. She reminds us of the importance of inclusivity and liberation for all marginalized groups, echoing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words: “No one is free until we are all free.”

As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s important to pause and reflect on the enduring legacy of figures like Marsha P. Johnson and the countless others who have fought and continue to fight for Civil Rights, recognition, celebration, and equality. I hope you can also remember today, and always, that real progress is driven by everyday people who work tirelessly to pave the way for a better future.

Related Content

View all Insights
headshot of Gaurang Choksi with glitter circles

We feature Gaurang Choksi, Violet’s Founder and CEO in our ongoing series spotlighting the health equity objectives of leaders within Hopelab’s Ventures portfolio.

Dr Travis Gayles headshot smiling at camera with glitter circles and hazel health logo

Hazel’s team is working to deliver culturally competent care at scale. Dr. Travis Gayles, Hazel’s Chief Health Officer, shares his thoughts on the benefits of creating a culture of prevention within the healthcare system.

Dr. Charity Brown Griffin uplifts the wisdom of Ella Baker, a Civil Rights activist who recognized the brilliance of Black students could be harnessed to address racial injustices, segregation, and discrimination in the South.

abstract background with the moon and gradient and glitter circles with headshot of bruny kenou

As we head into Black History Month, Bruny Kenou challenges us to live with more joy and fulfillment by embracing the wisdom of bell hooks.