February is Black History Month. Does it make sense to have a Black History Month in 2021? Why look back?
Because the past informs the present and provides a springboard for the future. In 1926, historian, author, and journalist Carter G. Woodson held a week of activities that examined and celebrated Black History. In 1976, that week was expanded to a month and endorsed by the US government.
LOOKING AT THEN
We look to the past so we can figure out where we are and where we might be going. Not only the basic data of facts and figures that people wrote down about slavery and historical events – but the impact and the legacy of those facts on every American.
History can serve to kindle a useful conversation. A review of our past can provide a discussion of not just feelings of anger and shame, but of pride, education, and surprise.
LOOKING AT NOW
Looking at history provides an opportunity to look at the present and appreciate and applaud the progress and accomplishments of current day courage. Finding inspiration in the actions of people today can serve as support, inspiration, and incentive.
We can find that today’s role-models play a part in providing us with comfort and encouragement. We look at people who exist in our time that are making a difference now. It might be an individual or a movement, but we see today’s date on the headlines and videos. This is happening in real-time – OUR time.
LOOKING AT SOON
History and the present are the first two steps on the way to imagining the third step – dreaming about what might be and could be. Envisioning a possible future is for dreamers and planners.
Celebrating Black History Month allows us to bring the past into the present and talk about a possible future. It serves as a reminder that the struggles and accomplishments of those who came before us are the foundation of where we are going next.
Explore the global, national, and local impact of Black History. This month can be the time you get more informed on the impact of Black people not only on history, politics, culture music, art, literature, cinema – but also activism and engagement. Take some time to reflect upon past and present, while imagining future possibilities of black life, as well as multicultural life.
What does it mean to live in a more engaged United States in 2021? I’m hoping for more listening and learning, and an engaged community that is more diverse and inclusive than it has been, celebrating our differences and our similarities.
What does Black History Month mean to you?