Black Botanists…You Matter

My biggest hope emerging from this week is that the conversation and celebration of Black people and the plants they love continue!

I love plants.

I love studying plants, learning about plants, reading about plants, writing about plants.

I just love them!

Perhaps one of the things that I love most is the plasticity and resilience of these organisms.

This week in particular has been AMAZING!

#BlackBotanistsWeek exceeded beyond my wildest dreams.

Inspired by #BlackBirdersWeek that followed the targeted and racist harassment of Christian Cooper in NYC’s Central Park, Tanisha Williams coordinated a group of twelve Black botanists (pictured below) in the planning and implementation of Black Botanists Week.

#BlackBotanistsWeek Organizing Team (L to R): Top, Tanisha M. Williams, Nokwanda Makunga, Georgia Silvera Seamans, Brandi Cannon, Jade Bleau, Natasza Fontaine; Bottom, Rupert Koopman, Maya Allen, Morgan Halane, Beronda L. Montgomery, Tatyana Soto, Itumeleng Moroenyane.

The goal of the week was simple: to provide inclusive digital spaces to celebrate individuals who self-identify as Black to celebrate their love for plants. We didn’t want to limit participation to “certified” botanists who have completed recognized courses of study as botanists, but wanted to broadly celebrate the love of plants by Black people globally.

When we started the week, we didn’t know where it would take us, but what a ride it’s been.

I have been so inspired this week to see broad representation of the Black people — including some “Baby Botanists” — from across the globe who eagerly participated in declaring their love for plants.

Representation matters!

It matters for BIPOC to see others like them who love, grow, study, or simply thoughtfully use plants.

But, it also matters [and matters greatly] that non-BIPOC see the large numbers of Black botanists out there and the myriad ways that we love plants, and how we are impactfully contributing to practical, inspirational, and academic knowledge about them.

My biggest hope emerging from this week is that the conversation and celebration of Black people and the plants they love continue!

Furthermore, I hope that every Black botanist that engaged via any of the platforms used during this #BlackBotanistsWeek recognizes that YOU MATTER…WE MATTER!!!

Figure with text: You matter, you are valued, you are important, you are enough.

I hope to see you on Twitter, where I’ll continue to be, talking about plants, my life as a writer, professor, mentor and so much more.

To the organizers, it was a honor to serve with you.

To all the Black botanists who participated this week, I thank you. You made my week and life forever richer!!!

To continue the conversation or start a new one, connect with me on Twiter at @BerondaM.

My Black Botanical Legacy

I’m a second generation Black botanist.

My mother was the first.

Actually considering the botanists that were certainly among my enslaved ancestors, this accounting is undoubtedly numerically wrong.

Yet, my mother is the Black botanical legacy and Black botanist that I admire and observed up close and personal.

No, she didn’t formally train in plant biology or academic botany in the revered halls of the ivory tower as did I; yet, she is a botanist extraordinaire.

My childhood home and gardens were the stuff of legends – a virtual plant sanctuary.

If you’ve attended any of my talks or workshops on #LessonsFromPlants on mentoring, you’ve almost certainly heard me wax poetic about her “green thumb” that was a gift to our home and the neighborhood beyond. If not, she (and her green thumb) will make an appearance in the preface of my upcoming book.

Mother is a botanist of the broader definition that I’m FULLY embracing this “Black Botanists Week”:

Screenshot from Instagram post @Beronda_M

I’m eagerly looking forward to learning more about and from Black botanists & the broader botany community during #BlackBotanistsWeek 2020 and much longer thereafter.

I look forward to learning about Black botanical legacies far and wide.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter @BerondaM and with many in the community at #BlackBotanistsWeek or meet the organizing committee and learn more at