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Black History Month is an annual observance originating in the United States, where it is also known as African American History Month. It has received official recognition from governments in the United States and Canada and more recently has been observed in Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. It began as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”. This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and of Frederick Douglass on February 14, both of which dates Black communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century.

Black History Month was first proposed by black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, from January 2 to February 28, 1970. Six years later, Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture, and community centers, both great and small, when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”.

In the black community, Black History Month was met with enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of Black history clubs, an increase in interest among teachers, and interest from progressive whites. Since its inception, Black History Month has expanded beyond its initial acceptance in educational establishments. In 2018, Instagram created its first-ever Black History Month program with the help of its then Head of Global Music & Youth Culture Communications. By 2020, Black History Month had become a focus beyond schools. The Wall Street Journal describes it as “a time when the culture and contributions of African Americans take center stage” in a variety of cultural institutions including theaters, libraries, and museums. It has also garnered attention from the U.S. business community. Please join the Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in celebrating the illustrious past and inspiring future of Black History Month.

In pride of celebrating Black History Month, we would like to recognize Dr. Jamisha Leftwich.

What was the thought process and motivation behind getting into our profession? 

I became interested in dietetics around thirteen years old when my father had a heart attack and was instructed to consult with a dietitian. At that time, I did not know that dietetics was even a career option but continued to learn more about the field and what it entailed. I always found the connection between food, people, and their health interesting so I continued to explore the field and became an RDN.

Please tell us about your area of expertise in the field of Nutrition. 

I currently am the Program Director for the new Future Education Model Graduate Program in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of North Florida. In this role, I can help shape the future generation of dietitians. In my career as an RDN, I have worked in clinical and community nutrition. I consider my expertise to be in maternal, infant, child health and nutrition, especially breastfeeding since I am a Certified Lactation Counselor.

What are some of your health-related values, beliefs, and practices? 

Nutrition and food are not a one size fits all prescription. Food and nutrition encompass so much to an individual, it’s not only fuel, but its culture, tradition, history, community, etc.

Do you avoid eating any foods for your cultural or religious reasons? Which ones and why? 


What steps do you take to counsel a patient from a different culture and racial group?

The first thing a dietitian should do with any of their patients is build rapport. Get to know the patient. What are their likes/dislikes, how did they grow up, what is their home life like. This information will give you a better insight into the patient and will help you understand why the patient chooses to eat the way they do.

What is your message to our fellow dietitians?

Let’s shape the next generation of dietitians by getting involved! So much of our field depends on volunteers and I know we are all stretched thin with our day-to-day requirements but it’s so important to give back. Giving back could be joining a committee in your local or state affiliate or it could include becoming a preceptor. Preceptors play such a critical role for our students and interns in their path of becoming dietitians! So be open to opportunities and help support our students/interns in any way you can.

Please share your favorite recipe.
Cauliflower Gratin

• 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
• 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 11⁄2 tsp. oregano
• 1⁄8 tsp. cinnamon
• 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
• 1 tsp. honey
• pepper
• 1 large head cauliflower, broken
into smaller florets.
• juice from 1⁄2 a lemon
• 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1. Start a large pot of water to boil on the stovetop. Once boiling, add the
cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
3. Add the sliced onion, garlic, oregano, and cinnamon and cook until the
onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes, and stir to combine. Cook for 7 minutes more.
5. Stir in the honey and season with salt and pepper. Slide the sauce
mixture into a greased 2-quart baking dish or gratin dish.
6. Preheat your broiler. Place the cooked cauliflower over the top of the
sauce. Sprinkle with the crumbled feta, and drizzle with the lemon juice.
7. Place the dish under the broiler and cook for about 10 minutes, or until
the sauce is bubbly and the cheese begins to brown on top.
Nutrition Facts (Serves 4):
Calories: 109 kcal, Protein: 5g, Total Fat: 5g, Saturated fat: 2g, Carbohydrates: 14g, Sodium: 309mg,
Fiber: 5g, Cholesterol: 8mg