Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.

This year, CentroNía is taking the unprecedented step of recognizing those who have played a role in our history of growth and success. Meet Mr. Anthony, who has been a treasured member of the CentroNía family for many years.

CentroNía: What drew you to CentroNía?   

Mr. Anthony: What drew me to CentroNía? I would say, were its roots in the community. I had been hearing about CentroNía which was then Calvary Bilingual Learning Center in the late 80’s early 90’s. I would often walk by and hear laughter from children and watching the interactions with staff had me saying, “I would love to work there.”

Also meeting Ms. BB Otero drew me to CentroNía, who had a heart and dedication for her staff and the children in her care.

CentroNía: How do your values align with the organization’s mission to “educate children and youth and strengthen families in a bilingual, multicultural community”?

Mr. Anthony: My values are somewhat aligned with CentroNía’s mission, as an educator in the field of early childhood education, I must respect all families regardless of their ethnicity, income, and regardless of the neighborhood they live in. Strengthening families by providing high-quality care and education is the foundation to building a better community and a brighter future.

CentroNía: What advice do you have for those interested in helping their community?

Mr. Anthony: My advice would be “just do it”, help or serve in your community. I encourage it 100 percent. When you help in your community, whether it’s adopting a park to clean, volunteering in a school, or just sitting and talking with a senior citizen in your community. When you help someone or volunteer, you are taking the focus from your problems as you make someone’s day a little brighter.

CentroNía: Tell us about your career path. How’d you end up in your current role?

Mr. Anthony: My career path started in 1979 as a youth in the SYEP at 14 years of age. I was a tutor for elementary school-age children at the Takoma Elementary school, this is where a fell in love with working and interacting with children. Years later while still in high school I was hired as the first male to work at the center, Turley CDC in 1984. In 1986 I worked at the GAP Community Child Care Center first as a teaching assistant aide and later getting my CDA and then becoming a teacher. Went back to school, receiving a degree in early childhood education in 2005. I remained until 2012. I’ve been working for CentroNía since May of 2013.

CentroNía: If you could go back to learn one thing, what would it be and why?

Mr. Anthony: If I were to go back and learn one thing, it would be to learn a second language. Learning a second language opens opportunities that will keep you marketable and current in a rapidly changing society. Working in a multicultural environment has been a great learning experience as well as rewarding.

CentroNía: What’s your favorite family tradition? 

Mr. Anthony: One of my favorite family traditions hands down would be Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. My mom would have the whole house smelling with the aroma of either turkey for Thanksgiving or ham/chicken for Christmas with all the trimmings, mac & cheese, dressing… don’t forget the sweet potato pies. We would sit around the dinner table, and we’d laugh, tell stories of growing up as children. It was just the best time of the year and a family tradition I will hold near and to my heart.

CentroNía: The theme of Black History Month this year is Black Health & Wellness. What does that theme mean to you and how do you make space for your own physical and mental wellness in your life?

Mr. Anthony: To me, the theme “black health and wellness” means that as an African American male, it’s very important I take of my body as well as my mind. We have been experiencing a pandemic that we all thought we would never experience, and this has taken a toll on not just overall health of a person but also the health and wellness of the mind. I make space for my own physical and mental wellness by “knowing the art of doing nothing.”😊

I enjoy when the weather is good rising early get a cup of coffee and walk to the park and sit. I have recently downloaded the calming app, which I recommend highly. As I sit and listen to calming music, rain on leaves, breathing and meditation exercises. A very personal way I make space for mental wellness is every day when I arrive home after a long day, I, sit in my mama’s recliner who transitioned almost three years ago. Sometimes while sitting in her recliner I say to myself, “Wow, this is where my mama sat.”

Thank you, Mr. Anthony, for the devotion and care you show our earliest learners! Happy Black History Month!