February is Black History Month. It is a month that we dedicate to reflect, celebrate, and honor the ancestors of the black community locally and globally. It is also an opportunity to grieve the trauma still being experienced today as a result of the racial injustices in our history.
Why the month of February?
The date was chosen because of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass' birthdays, which fall in February. Black History Month came about in the 1940s, and it became nationally recognized in 1976.
A Legacy of Honor and Resilience
In African-American culture, the practice of honoring those who came before, especially those who fought for racial freedom and equality, is central to their identities. With so much work that still needs to be done in our nation in regards to racial justice, studying and remembering the work that has already done is vital to push forward in the fight for equality. Just as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and so many others fought for the freedom of future generations of black Americans, the black community today is fighting for better justice and equality for future generations.
The progress that has been made in the past 100+ years brings hope for the future. But, it also inevitably brings up deep pain, tragic loss, and trauma. Black Americans were stripped of dignity and identity during the slave trade in the 1800s. Countless men and women have fought to restore dignity and identity since, but that doesn't remove the pain entirely. Each and every African-American faces some consequence of the past. Black History Month serves as a time to acknowledge reality, while being empowered by the hope that black leaders have provided throughout history.
How does OGM fit in the story?
Oliver Gospel serves an ethnically diverse population with the common thread of poverty and homelessness. But, the circumstances that lead to poverty are heavily influenced by race. Any person can get caught in a cycle of poverty, but because of the historical racial inequality between blacks and whites in jobs, education, healthcare, and more, the African-American community is more susceptible to the poverty cycle. The racial injustices in our country's history perpetuates the poverty cycle, making the fight for racial justice even more difficult.
Our programs are designed to help break the poverty cycle. As we honor and celebrate Black History this month, our team is seeking to learn more about how racial injustice has shaped the identities of the African-American people who come through our programs. Through listening and learning, we hope to join in the fight for equality and justice.