Black History Month 2014

"The Soul" featuring Jerrell Davis

“The Soul” featuring Jerrell Davis

Wow! It has been five months since my last post. I am happy to return this month with a tribute to the importance of Black History Month. For those that don’t know, FEBRUARY is Black History Month.

A song by “The Soul”, my son’s musical group, begins “I  am, too much to be described, by a word, or the world or whoever’s confines…”

All this month we celebrate black history, a beautiful legacy of people who refused to be defined by a WORD…Jim Crow, slavery, colored only, discrimination, injustice, busing, boycott, segregation, prejudice.

The WORLD…of racism, poverty, separate but equal education, lack of access to jobs, second rate schools, no access to fair housing.

Or the self confines of low self esteem, lack of motivation, laziness and unwillingness to try something new.

We now have the freedom to choose to define who we are through our abilities, accomplishments, and achievements and make a new history. To understand where we are going, we have to look at where we came from.  We just have to choose not to stay stuck there…in the past.  We do need to learn about our history, and learn something new everyday, not just in February.  Surround yourself with the beauty of black films, black art, or the thousands of books by black authors. That is a good way to start.

Black history is everyone’s history. We helped build this country. In fact, it was made from the blood, sweat and tears of our very ancestors. I don’t know that I personally could have survived slavery or the Jim Crow (racially segregated and unjust) South that basically said “white people are better.”

There is no way to prove to you how important black people are. I can’t and will not shame you into understanding that right now, you can make black history with your very own life. What that history looks like for you, I don’t know.  I grew up with a mother, aunt and uncle who were very proud of their black history, and their pride was instilled in me. My aunt Hellyne marched with Dr. King.  In fact,  she was the inspiration for my participation in the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington this past August.   While growing up, every year the Rev. Jesse Jackson, head of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and one Dr. King’s closest friends, came to speak at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, it was a family affair.  My uncle Bob, Hellyne’s husband, was one of the first black radio deejays in Seattle, Washington, broadcasting a jazz program on radio station KYAC. He was also friends with the Rev. James Bevel, who was a very outspoken and controversial civil rights speaker in the 1970s. Our family was sometimes host to him when he came to Seattle.  I knew that I was somebody growing up.  I do not remember ever being ashamed of being Black. The atmosphere I grew up in, there was no doubt in my mind, that Black was Beautiful. It still is…