This week marks the beginning of Black History Month for the 46th time in America. Ever since I was old enough to grasp the concept of a month devoted to Black history, I’ve found it to be so interesting to hear what peoples’ thoughts are about the importance of this month, how to acknowledge and celebrate it or at times questioning with genuine disquietude, the necessity of February’s designation. This month means a lot of different things to each of us but the most important reflections to me are about remembrance, gratitude and direction.
Originally created as a way to pay homage to Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, Carter Woodson hoped that people within our nation would always remember these two iconoclasts. Since then, Black History Month has evolved to become a time of remembrance and recognition for innumerable individuals within the African American community whose achievements and contributions are the integral fibers constructing the fabric of our society. It is important to remember those who have gone before us and to recognize how their influence still resonates today. Remembrance is how we may honor the past. This month encourages us to reflect on the gratitude we have for the results of what these leaders, inventors, scientists, artists, athletes, and more have gifted to us all. I am grateful to them for the ways in which I am a recipient of the fruits of their labor. I try to be especially grateful this month and that is how I honor the present.
This month also motivates me to get a bit meta, think about the meaning of the meaning of it all. I wonder about our direction, my trajectory. I wonder what we’ve learned, what we’re still learning and what we’ve forgotten. Black History Month provides for the exploration of countless examples of how our differences are something to be celebrated rather than feared and respected rather than disdained. This month is so special to me because it reminds me that even though it seems like there are so many differences amongst us, one undeniable similarity can be found in the innate humanity that is shared across cultures and backgrounds. I hope that we can continue to work together to appreciate and celebrate our differences while holding on to the truth of each other’s humanity. I think this is a good way to honor the future.
“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” —Thurgood Marshall, first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” — Nelson Mandela
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” — Desmond Tutu
“Diversity is not about how we differ. Diversity is about embracing one another’s uniqueness.” — Ola Joseph
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” —Abraham Lincoln.