Each February we celebrate Black History Month as an annual observance across America. During this time, recognition is given to individuals who contributed to the wellbeing of African Americans. It is also an opportunity for all Americans to learn important information and facts of their nation’s history. Often times Black History is overlooked and pushed to the side.
Black history we know is American history, and the history is a rich and varied one. The remembrance started as a way to highlight vital events and people in the history of African Americans. Today, this month is important both in recognition and education. All Americans of any color should look at the issues that are present today in our society. Education is at the core of Black History Month, and what it offers for people from all walks of life to enhance their horizons.
Black History Month can be traced back to historian Carter G. Woodson. Mr. Woodson was a scholar who dedicated his life to the historic contributions of Black people that led to the establishment of “Black History Month”.
Black Health and Wellness is the theme for Black History Month for the year 2022, as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of so many people of color. There is a widespread disparity of access to quality healthcare that has impacted Blacks and other Americans.
“Let Freedom Ring” as we stand on the shoulders of those who struggled and put their lives on the line for our freedom: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Carter Woodson, Mary McLeod Bethune, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Dubois, and many others. Our local heroes: Melvin Morgan, Isadore Edwards, Clara Sessions, Leo Sears, Pat McCutcheon, Daddy Sanders, Evelyn Canady, B.B. Crowder, Mayola Wells, Leo Barker, Wardell Salters, Dr. Henry Gilmore, Ann Knight, Willie Green, Doris Stallsworth, Judge Isaac Anderson, Veronica Shoemaker, Marvin Davies, Helen Stebbins, Melissa Jones, Candis Walker and Gussie Mae White.
The statement, “Let Freedom Ring” indicates that the ideals of life and the pursuit of happiness is a given and should be allowed to flourish.
The life works and words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comprise a treasure trove that keeps on giving! His prophetic wisdom continues to inspire and motivate us to stay focused on the prize of racial and social justice for all.
This year a wise, dear friend sent me an excerpt from one of Dr. King’s speeches. Its theme should resonate with all of us: It is never too late to readjust your life’s blueprint. Dr. King lays out three imperatives. First, believe in your own dignity and worth. You are somebody! Second, determine to achieve excellence; no matter what your work is, be the best of whatever you are. And third, commit to the eternal principles of duty, love and justice.
Let’s focus on the third principle because my instincts tell me you have achieved the first two. Now is the time to adjust your blueprint to pursue duty, love and justice. Simplify by combining them: Our duty is to demonstrate love for our ancestors for their great sacrificial strides toward justice for all. That said, work on your blueprint; contribute your time and effort to the struggle for racial and social justice.
Effective initiatives in Lee County would welcome your talent. One, voter education and registration need an army of volunteers. With one political party passing state laws making voting more difficult, democracy lovers need help in educating voters about new restrictions. And the need to register new voters is always critical. If you are already trained and certified to register voters, call the number below to offer your services and if not, call to request training.
Two, several organizations offer training and materials for a host of communications activities: post carding, phone banking, texting, and other communications vehicles to get out the vote. These organizations will happily train volunteers to use these systems from the comfort of your own home.
Third, Lee County attracts social issues that cry out for advocates, people who will speak out against injustice, write newspaper opinion pieces, be interviewed by radio and TV reporters. The media is an excellent forum to get your message to the public. Current issues include one, an appeal to the county commissioners’ decision to gerrymander Dunbar again in the 2021 redistricting process. Two, advocate for single member districts in Lee County so that each commissioner is responsible to the people of his/her district for the common good rather than allegiance to highly funding developers. Three, the life-sized portrait of Confederate General Robert E. Lee should have been stored away when the United States of America won the Civil War against the South. Slave-holding Robert E. Lee does not represent democracy in America. Yet county commissioners choose to hang the portrait (with Lee dressed in full Confederate General uniform) in view of all who attend commission meetings. Given Lee’s history, the portrait speaks volumes of how the majority of commissioners think and vote on issues that directly affect African Americans.
Now is definitely the time to readjust your life’s blueprint and become more active in the battle for racial and social justice, and to save our democracy. A transparent and fair voting/elections system is the cornerstone of democracy. Call 239-839-2297 and request direction for any activity for which you want to volunteer.