Why is Black History everyone’s history? The United States is undoubtedly a powerful nation, considered by U.S. News and World Report to be the world’s most dominant economic and military power. By 1860, towards the end of Slavery, the South was producing 75% of the world’s cotton and producing millionaires galore. We stand firmly on the grounds of wealth built by the sweat and toil of more than 4,000,000 enslaved people. The opportunities granted us today by our great nation are built upon the foundation of early wealth created during the time of Slavery. For that reason, Black History is everyone’s history.
The theme for Black History Month this year is Black Resistance, honoring the resistance of oppression and racial terrorism perpetrated against African Americans since the time of Slavery, continuing to the present day. Passive resistance, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. utilized nonviolent forms of protest such as sit-ins and were engaged in by both Blacks and Whites during the Civil Rights Movement (1896 - 1954). Freedom Riders were Blacks and Whites who intentionally used “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters in segregated bus stations drawing violence from white protesters along with international attention. These forms of Black resistance drew attention to the injustices faced by Blacks and helped to shape legislation for equality.
Black churches have long been safe spaces for Blacks to gather, worship, and also organize. During the time of Slavery, Black churches served as safe havens and places of respite for those escaping to the North. Later they became the meeting places for organizers during the Civil Rights Movement. Early Black missionaries served as educators in a newly emancipated South. Black churches have a long history of serving as hubs for community as well as growing the seeds of education.
Education has played a key role for Black people to resist systemic racism at a foundational level. Education is the great leveler and a strong force for equality. It is the responsibility of educators to teach truth in the form of revealing the great injustices placed upon Africans, kidnapped and brought to America to be owned as property and enslaved under threat of death. This is a part of all of our history. It is our responsibility to learn the truth of our nation’s history and to continue the fight for equality, equity, and fairness for all.
Join the resistance to fight inequality and make this a more just and peaceful world. Here’s what you can do:
- Learn - Read about Black History and learn about notable Black figures throughout history, or read books by Black authors.
- Attend events relating to Black History. Do an internet search, there are many in your area.
- Volunteer - Give service at a community organization that serves Blacks or other minorities.
- Support Black owned businesses.
- Learn about Black History leaders and their contributions
Key Black History dates and historical figures:
- Slavery legal - 1400s - 1865
- Slave trade illegal - 1808
- Civil War - (1861-1865)
- Emancipation Proclamation - January 1, 1863
- Thirteenth Amendment - 1865
- Juneteenth - June 19, 1865
- Carter G. Woodson founded the origins of Black History Month - (Negro History Week, 1926)
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - Civil Rights leader (1929-1968)
- Harold Washington - Chicago’s first Black mayor (1983 - 1987)
- President Barack Obama - first Black president - (2009-2017)
- Kamala Harris - first African American woman vice president - (2020 - )