By Rev. Brittany Graves
As we come into March following February’s Black History Month, let us celebrate black history as American history all year long. In the month of February, we see an intentional upswing of people learning black history and amplifying black voices. There is a collective shift where more people seemingly look to black activists and black educators in February to celebrate black voices than any other month, but I wonder how much greater equity we can create if we celebrate blackness every month of the year.
I think back to the days of my youth and the history we learned in school. American history never quite resonated as much, until I wrote my first essay on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2nd grade or read poetry from black authors. Even today, my heart swells with joy when I see black women preaching and imagine how differently embracing my call into ministry could have been if I saw black women preaching as a child. It makes a difference. Representation matters, whether it is from whom we are learning, what we are learning about, or the perspective of stories being shared.
When we can collectively value and welcome diverse stories, then we can more seriously acknowledge unjust systems to bring economic and racial equity. When black stories and stories of color do not receive the deserved representation in the classroom or other learning spaces, we can choose to expand on what we learn at home or in community. Let the pride of remembering who you are hold space for others to stand in their truth, especially for people of color who are not widely taught the fullness of their history in the education system.
Questions to consider:
- How will you create space for diverse stories?
- Where is equity lacking in your workplace, church, or personal education?
What you can do:
Quotes from the founder of Black History Month, Carter G. Woodson:
“Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
“Real education means to inspire people to live more abundantly, to learn to begin with life as they find it and make it better.”
“What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.”
Prayer for a black history year:
As Black History Month in February has ended, let Black history in America continue to be endless. Let us celebrate our joys and triumphs to know our resilience. That we may be rooted and connected to our ancestor’s veneration, all year long. Let our collective trauma be remembered in ways to create a world anew, not stop us from pursuing freedom, long overdue. Never to forget the divinity, grace and resilience of whom we belong to.
Rev. Brittany Graves is associate coordinator, Public Witness & Advocacy, American Baptist Home Mission Societies. She welcomes your input at [email protected] and engagement on Instagram @ambitiouslyBrittany.
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels