Black History Month, 2022

By Clayola Brown, Civil Rights Director
Freedom is never given; it is won. — A Philip Randolph

From the desk of Clayola Brown

Every February ... Black History Month

Folks are always asking, “Is it important for us to remember our history? Heck yes! VERY!!

As we look at our past, we must never forget the individuals, black and white, who sacrificed years, and in some cases, their lives, so that we could enjoy the freedoms that exist in America today.

We must say their names: Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Frederick Douglass, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., A. Philip Randolph, John Lewis, Julian Bond, C.T. Vivian, and many, many, others who have directly affected our lives by making this country a better place.

That’s why I’m always surprised when people call MLK day -- a day set aside to honor the memory of Dr. King and his struggles for justice -- a black holiday. It is anything but that! It is a day when all Americans, black, white, Hispanic, Asian or Native American, should recall all those who fought for racial justice!

Gone are the days of the back of the bus. No more “colored” drinking fountains or getting your food at the back window of restaurants -- if they were willing to serve you at all based on the color of your skin.

Yes, these memories are painful but they return if we don’t remember and, if we don’t keep fighting for justice.

Think about it…

We can’t say there are no more marches, because we must continue to march…; No more water hoses… because they have returned…; No more lynchings because they too are happening again.

To quote Julian Bond, “Even some of the worst of it is worth commemorating and preserving… because it ought never be forgotten.”

Rosa Parks continue teaching until her death the importance of passing on the lessons. She now stands in Statuary Hall at the US Capitol.

And today we continue to fight for justice, as we remember John Lewis and his lifelong battle for voting rights, in the encouraging words off “Make good trouble!”

“History doesn’t happen to a culture. It doesn’t happen to a race. It happens to people.”

“When you fully claim your history, you can soar,” said George C. Wolfe, a producer and director in New York.

As A. Philip Randolph said, “Freedom is never given; it is won.”

Happy Black History Month!

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