As our country commemorates Black History Month, it’s a time to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of a specific people group to the culture and achievements of the United States.
Black History Month was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford during the country’s bicentennial celebration in an effort to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
As an African American woman, I am proud of my heritage. From music, poetry, science, politics, and even the spreading of the Gospel, God has given amazing gifts through black people. One needs only to study the contributions of Marian Anderson, Duke Ellington, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, George Washington Carver, or William Seymour to see the impact that has been made.
Turmoil has existed and still exists in the story of African Americans, but Crispus Attucks, Harriet Tubman and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are just a sampling of the strength, dignity, and persistence that has been exemplified throughout the years.
No doubt, very real divides still exist in our country today, but I believe the Church has the answer. After all, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that” (Dr. King).
Being a black woman is FABULOUS! I celebrate my ethnicity and with the wisdom of God will teach my children to do the same; however, first and foremost we are PEOPLE of GOD and ONE in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28). I pray as we look back over the achievements and triumphs of Black people in this country we would be as Jesus prayed over believers…one as He and the Father are one (John 17:21).
Celebration of one thing, person, or group is not to exclude another thing, person or group—this is a month that can unite all people, especially within the Body of Christ because as one member rejoices, the whole body should rejoice.
So let’s celebrate the gifts our Creator gave us through African Americans! History tells us Daniel Hale Williams was a heart surgery pioneer. Dr. Charles Drew was the developer of the blood bank. Thurgood Marshall was the first African American Supreme Court Justice and Barack Obama was the first African American President of the United States. The darkness of the past does not have to dictate the brightness of the future, especially for those of us who name Jesus as Lord. If it is possible as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men (Romans 12:18).
How can you commemorate Black History Month?
Engage in the conversations around you…even the ones that are a little uncomfortable. Ask questions. Listen. Empathize. Be a light and be “known by your love” (John 13:35). What if your observance and learning during this month and other times of the year build a bridge for the Gospel to be communicated in a meaningful way to someone that has not heard it?