As we look to Black History Month 2021, a number of factors merge to create unique topics for discussion. The election of the first black woman vice president, the Black Lives Matter movement and a rise in glaring racial hatred in speeches and actions just to name a few.
Black leaders across the country have stepped forward to meet the challenges in spite of or because of all the turmoil. Young people have brought new voices and fresh ideas to the table. Time magazine featured the amazing poet Amanda Gorman on its recent cover and included a story about a new Black Renaissance.
This is true in that black leaders, artists, musicians and others are being granted much deserved time in the spotlight, skills and talents appreciated maybe for the first time.
But in another way, it is not a Renaissance, as that can indicate there was a “Dark Ages” that preceded it….a time when nothing was happening, no talents were rising. And that of course is not true. The leaders, the talent, the brilliance, the profound thinking has always been there. It was just hidden from view for most of us. Black History Month began as a way to celebrate those that had been ignored or forgotten. And that is still its mission today as there are so many things yet to uncover and celebrate about the lives of a people and a culture that have played a role in shaping this country from its earliest days.
But Black History Month is also about celebrating possibilities and the future…a future where it is less about a special month set aside and more about making that history part of everyone’s everyday knowledge and understanding.