Black History Month: A Story of Resilience and Liberation
The story of Black History Month begins in 1915. In a coordinated effort, Carter G. Woodson, a well-known Harvard Historian, and Jesse E. Moorland, a prominent and respected minister, founded and organized the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The goal behind this association was to promote black Americans and highlight their achievements. After gaining traction from the public, the ASNLH put together a history week in 1926 to encourage the celebration of black excellence on an annual basis. Fast-forward a hundred years and what started out as a week of observation has evolved into a month long, multi-national, celebration of black accomplishments, history, and culture.
With each passing year Americans come together to commemorate black history not because it is respectful to do so; rather, we celebrate because black history is American history. It is woven into the fabric of this nation and it is a story of resilience and liberation.
Growing up, my understanding of the importance of highlighting black achievements and celebrating black culture was cultivated by my family and community. Black history month became something I looked forward to every year. It was a chance for the world to pause and reflect on the power of justice and freedom. From slavery to Jim Crow, from the Harlem Renaissance to the Civil Rights Act, black Americans have never given up, backed down, or faltered, even in the midst of adversity.
Black history reminds us that all are endowed inalienable rights from God and that freedom withheld from one jeopardizes freedom to all.
It is important for us as a nation to reflect on the story of Black America to remind ourselves of the fragility of freedom. Though our founders escaped England to forge a more free life for themselves, true freedom for all Americans was not realized until much later. This reality, though uncomfortable for some, is critically important to understand if we wish to prevent the erosion of liberty going forward. There is no cause more just, pure, and unimaginably important than the preservation of liberty and independence for all individuals, no matter their beliefs, identity, pedigree, or standing in society.
Black History Month gives us all the opportunity to forge a path forward from our unsavory past. As a black woman myself, I look forward to sharing my ancestor’s story of resilience to my son and to other generations to come. I see myself in Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglas, Maggie Walker, and the many courageous black Americans that have come before me. I am encouraged by my culture’s relentless pursuit of freedom. As an advocate for the liberation of all peoples, this month gives me the fuel to stay the course and the encouragement to never stop fighting for justice.
As we celebrate the great black figures of the past, may we also intentionally position ourselves to support black voices of the present. May we continue sharing stories and pushing towards a more equal and just society like the incredible black leaders both past and present alike.
Happy Black History Month!