It’s February 28, the last day of Black History Month. Wow. That flew by, as it always does. You blink, you miss it…I guess I blinked.
I started the month with a small lament that we still have a Black History Month, and that there is still a need for one. As I reflect on the month that has passed, this thought came to me:
My mom gave me one of the greatest compliments last night. We were talking about various issues, which is our custom, and I made a statement, “I just don’t like it when people get messed over.” And her response, “You get that from your grandma.”
My grandma was a wonderful woman. She was hard to know, but not hard to respect and admire. Her life was characterized by service: to her family, her church and her community. She was very active in fighting for equality and fairness in housing and education in Champaign, Illinois, and was a faithful servant of the Lord at her church. Her drive: she hated to see injustice. And she was not one who sat idly by on the sidelines and complained. She was a woman of action. My mom inherited that passion and has modeled a life of service and advocacy herself.
To be told I am like her is the highest of compliments. And I pray I will continue this legacy myself.
So…about Black History Month. This month is about more than the achievements of notable African Americans that made “history” in some fashion. This is indeed important, and should be taught – and all year around I might add. But it is also the history of family. My family history is rich and broad. I love the fact that I know so much about their lives and struggles. I have a better understanding of myself as I learn about where I came from. And it helps steer me into the future as I consider the direction of my life from this point forward.
If I were to sum it up, understanding the meaning of my ethnic identity is rooted deeply in my understanding of my own family history. As I get older, that understanding has grown, and I have come to appreciate who I am in within that largetr context. This spurs me on to follow in the footsteps of those who came before me and seek to make a difference, even a small one, in much the same way they did.
That’s the real purpose for Black History Month…at least from my vantage point.
Grace and peace…