Every year in February I am aware of black history month and assume it is an opportunity to learn more about the history of African-American heritage in our country, but given the current racial tension which is still very real in this country, as a white American, what am I called to do during this dedicated month of remembrance of past challenges and new opportunities for growth? There is still much growing needed, but to answer that question, one must first understand why the month of February is significant.
February was intentionally chosen because it is the birth month of two critical intellectuals; social reformer, orator and abolitionists African-American Frederick Douglass, as well as, Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President, who was also considered a social reformer, vocal opponent of slavery and took very deliberate steps towards emancipation. These two men can be credited with driving the vision and hope for race relations in America in 1863. After the two of them met, Douglass announced that the abolition war and peace they envisioned would not be complete until black men are fully and completely admitted into the body politic of America. Fast forward 155 years later to 2018, and this vision and goal they so passionately pursued, still has some progress to be made.
Let us never forget the past but learn and understand it so that we can make meaningful, intentional decisions in our daily lives which can have profound impact to others. During Black History Month, we can all honor the struggles and triumphs of the black community, often forgotten. Learning something new is time consuming but can lead to a change in attitude or behavior. If everyone, black, white, every race, learns more about the past, we can contribute to our future.
There are many racial justice activists working every day to advocate for the equal treatment of black people. Racism exists, and it is real, accepting its presence is not acceptable. Learn what is going on in your community and educate yourself. Knowledge is Power, Power is Change, Change makes a Difference.
To find out what is happening in your community, check out these sites. The first site is sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation and provides an opportunity to search in your area to find organizations working within the field of race equity on various issues. Read more about it here.
Black Lives Matter is an organization started in 2013 to organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities by the state and vigilantes. Details can be found here.