KITCHENER -- Celebrations for Black History Month will look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Black Lives Matter movement was also re-energized last year, putting a spotlight on the Black community and the challenges they face.

"Diversity, equity and inclusion," said Vershawn Young, a Black studies professor at the University of Waterloo.

The conversation about those challenges is evolving on the heels of the Black Lives Matter movement, which sparked a wave of marches across North America, including in Waterloo Region.

"Many people became rightful more concerned," Young said. "Their eyes were opened."

Young said a number of academic institutions and businesses have reached out over the past week for a consultation on Black History Month. He said it's a lot more than in previous years. Young hopes this will be a catalyst for more awareness.

"To renew that commitment and to chart a way forward for the rest of the year," he said.

But, it can't be done alone.

"I hope that non-racialized individuals will partner with us to bring about the change at a faster pace than the Black community could do all on its own," said Lannois Carroll-Woolery, president of the Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region (CCAWR).

There are a number of virtual events hosted by local groups this month celebrations Black history, art, culture and social justice.

The CCAWR is hosting a number of events all month long, and the City of Kitchener has virtual events throughout February.