Black History Month Matters
A Message from the President
Black History Month is a time of reflection and acknowledgement of the journey of a people with resiliency and determination for freedom, justice and equity. It is also a time of encouragement for continued pathways towards liberty and justice for all.
This month helps to tell the story that is still not in the history books or taught in schools much or at all. It provides a focused opportunity and awareness of a people who have been denied basic rights, fought for equality, and made tremendous contributions to society. The reflection and acknowledgement includes individuals like the six Black Heroes of the Civil War- Harriet Tubman, conductor of the Underground Railroad that led hundreds of enslaved men, women and children to freedom; Alexander Augusta, medical doctor for the 7th U.S. Colored Infantry in Civil War; Frederick Douglass, abolitionist and prominent voice for freedom, human rights and social reform; Abraham Galloway and Robert Smalls, both elected officials in the South after the Civil War; and Susie King Taylor, teacher and battlefield nurse.
We reflect and acknowledge all our heroes, both prominent and unsung, for their courage, bravery and leadership for centuries to improve the conditions of black people in America and across the world.
Black History is particularly important today since there are many generations since slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, desegregation, civil rights movement and the fight for justice and equity that need to know the struggles, the defeats, the victories and the opportunities. As Maya Angelou said: “I have a great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you are going.” She went on to say: “ I do my best to be completely centered at the place I’m at, then I go forward to the next place”.
Black History helps to center Black people and equip them to forge their own pathways and journeys towards equity and justice. However, black history is not just for Black people, it’s for all people. Currently our country is struggling with the basic fundamentals of Democracy including still debating a Voters Rights Bill that supports access for all people; and there is still racial and social unrest in our communities. Our young people, regardless of their race or ethnicity, need to understand history and each other so that there are not racial and ethnic slurs written on school campuses which are the very places to teach respect, knowledge, tolerance and understanding of all people. We have work to do.
Let’s make a commitment today to open up our hearts and minds to each other, the past, the present and the future change we want to see. It can start with Black History Month.
As President Obama said “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.”
St. HOPE President