Dr. Carter G. Woodson conceived and announced Negro HistoryWeek in 1926, which later gave birth to Black History Month. Dr. Woodson believed that proper understanding of African American history would promote pride within the Black community and foster greater respect for it in the United States. Through Black History Month, the contributions of African Americans, both in our presence and in the history of United States have been identified and celebrated.
In commemorating the achievements, struggles, and milestones of Black men and women, we call to mind the progress that has been made so far.
Reflecting on the past, we will see that the future for African Americans has a combination of both opportunities and challenges. It is important to mention that early African American men and women especially scholars, encountered serious challenges on their paths to success. But the good thing is that they never stopped in their journey of history because of the difficulties they encountered;they continued! Wherever you are, you are encouraged to continue Dr. Carter Woodson’s legacy. Do not give up! Keep investigating the depths of the accomplishments of Black History Month lest its value and relevance be diminished in the micro and macro conversations of history.
To be able to continue the long journey that black men and women started, we must not only sing the praises of their accomplishments in American history, we must build on those accomplishments. And the best way to make a difference is by working together.
When you spark a change, you unlock the power to strengthen your community and shape the future. As civil rights activist Ella Baker encouraged, imagine new possibilities, lead with solutions, and engage communities to drive positive change. Do not forget your rich heritage as you work for a brighter future every day!
What is the place of the Catholic Church in the Black History Month? It might be surprising to mention that Black Catholic History started in the Scripture—Acts 8:26-40—with the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch by Philip. By the standard of this Scripture verse, this is the first Black African in the history of Christian conversion. Christian Africa played a very important role in early Christendom. There are three recorded popes that were born in Africa: Saints Victor I, Melchiades, and Gelasius I. They all had their challenges and trials as they shepherded the early Church.
Church History has the names of Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, Mathilda Beasley, Daniel Rudd, and Reverend Augustus Toltonas those who held on to their faith and ministered to the people of God with enduring legacies in the face of prejudice, indifference and ignorance. There is joy, sorrow and inspiration reading the historic accounts of their lives today. Therefore, do not expect the journey of faith to be easy. But like them, trust in God; He will make a way. The hard work of today leads to the celebration of tomorrow.
Father Iwuala is Chaplain at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville