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Reflections on Black History Month

by L. Dorothy Edmonds

 
Collage of Black History notable images available on wikipedia.org

Image by: Public Domain Images courtesy wikipedia.org

Black History Month grew from a need for America to know and embrace the contributions that African Americans made to the formation and development of the country.  Growing up and attending public schools in Alabama, I can not recall reading anything positive about African Americans in a history book.  We were blessed with visionary teachers who went beyond the textbook and exposed us to information about black Americans who were making history.

It was in a segregated school that I learned about Frederick Douglas, Crispus Attucks, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Dubois, Thurgood Marshall and great artists like Roland Hayes, Lena Horne, and Nat King Cole.  It was in a segregated school that we pledged allegiance to the American flag, and sang America the Beautiful and Lift Every Voice and Sing (which was later adopted as the Negro National Anthem).  We were proud to be Americans and proud to be Black Americans in spite of being looked upon as second class citizens.  It was that “pride” in who we were that propelled us forward and enabled us to believe that the future would be better.

When I fast forward to 2007, I am so grateful to be on the board of the Women’s Division where “justice” issues that pertain to women, children, and youth are always at the forefront of the programs embraced by the Women’s Division. The Women’s Division is keenly aware that racism is alive and well in the U.S., and is committed to its demise.

Yes, there is still a need for Black History Month, as African American children need to know their history and the struggles of their ancestors.  They need to feel proud of who they are.  Our children need to know that much of who we are today is rooted and grounded in the Christian faith with God and the church as the anchor.  They need to hear the Negro Spirituals and know their origin.  They need to hear the poetry of Paul Lawrence Dunbar.  They need to hear the blues sung by B.B. King and Bo Diddley.  They need to read about Thurgood Marshall and the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education lawsuit.  They need to read about the Little Rock Nine.  They need to know about Emmet Till, John Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, all lynched in Mississippi.  They need to know about John Lewis (now Congressman) and his encounter on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama while marching for voting rights for African Americans.  Our children need to know about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, and their struggle to promote equality under the law.

African American history is a vital part of America’s history.  America was built on the backs of slave labor of African Americans.  The descendants of these slaves are now interwoven into the fabric of American culture.  This could only happen through the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit working through Godly people such as John Wesley and countless other Christians who believed in, and worked for justice and equal opportunity for all.

Black History Month serves to remind all citizens of America that all people were created by God and deserve an equal opportunity for optimum development.  For African American youth, Black History Month just might be that one ray of hope to put them on the road to greatness.

L. Dorothy Edmonds is Director of both the Women’s Division and the General Board of Global Ministries.

Return to Black History Month Theme Page for more features.


 
See Also...
Topic: Education Human rights Race
Geographic Region: United States
Source: GBGM Mission News
 
 

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Date posted: Feb 01, 2007