I’ve always felt that Black history should not be limited to a month—February to be exact—which is why I’m posting my Black history blog in March.
In 2020, Black history was not limited to one month, rather it was a year of Black history in the making. We garnered a great deal of support for the recognition that Black Lives Matter. Yet there was also substantial pushback both nationally and locally. Tribulation and triumph seem to go hand-in-hand throughout our history.
We witnessed the execution of George Floyd at the foot of an officer of the law. “I can’t breathe,” became our mantra. One step forward, two steps back.
I was a young adult during the Civil Rights Movement. The media came forth and brought into American living rooms across the country, the brutality meted on the Freedom Riders by southern segregationists. Victory ensued and the Civil Rights Act was passed. We were moving steadily forward. Then Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Triumph and tribulation once again paired in the history of Black America.
The latter part of the century was marked by race riots sparked by police brutality. Rodney King became a household name.
But in 2009, I experienced renewed trust that things had permanently improved. Standing on the Washington Mall and cheering the inauguration of Present Barack Obama gave me confidence that the American racial mindset was truly propelled forward. Although along with many Black Americans, I prayed daily throughout his eight-year term that the unthinkable would not happen.
In reality, we all knew that the KKK, neo-Nazis and Arian right had never gone away, they had just slithered underground. With the help of social media, they were building a strong base, and resurfaced, brandishing weapons and swastikas, as they desecrated the Capitol building with the Confederate flag.
I was so weary and disheartened in 2020.
But once again, triumph stepped forward to join with tribulation. People are focusing more on racial attitudes beneath the surface. Black history is becoming increasingly woven into American history. A new consciousness is emerging among America’s White population. A new awareness coupled with an accompanying vocabulary. White Privilege. Systemic Racism. White Fragility. Via Zoom, I am now an invited member in a book club of White church women in Massachusetts, studying these very concepts.
Over the years, our legacy of tribulation strengthens us and triumph propels us forward. On January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris placed her hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution as the first Black Vice President of the United States. In this moment of triumph, we resolve that we are forever moving forward.