Why should we continue to celebrate Black History Month?
(pictured above: Oscar Micheaux, first black movie director who produced “Up From Slavery” in 1919.)
King Adinkera of the Akan people of West Africa declared, “Se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki,” or “It is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot.” Our past reflects a people of tenacity who used God given talents to help the least. Vanguards of faith and hope should be celebrated, people like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who admonishes us “do not allow others to tell your story,” and attorney Willie Gary, who believes “the old gray haired grandparents knew more about God by accident than we know on purpose.”
We come from dedicated people piloted by the Holy Spirit. Their battle cry was “Yes We Can,” long before President Barack Obama declared it. Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune said, “Faith is the first factor in a life devoted to service. Without it, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.” She founded her school for poor black children and convinced the building’s owner to accept $1.50 down on the rent of $11.00. The theology of the elders was “God will take a little and make it much.”
The church was the birthing place of greatness for the least of us. Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month, wrote “The History of the Negro Church,” noting “the importance of the church in the life of the Negro justifies the publication of this brief account of the development of the institution.”
The famed inventor Dr. George Washington Carver spoke before Congress, telling them he learned so much “from an old book – the Bible.” He gave his life to Christ at a young age. The voice of God revealed all his discoveries and 300 uses for the peanut. Who and what in the rooms of your church can be birthed? Our churches are filled with “human capital resources” capable of enriching lives.
Catch the Spirit of Freedom and you can inspire others. Oscar Micheaux – our first noted Black movie director – was inspired by Booker T. Washington’s “Up From Slavery.” He produced a movie in 1919. Racism existed, yet it did not deter dreams. The Winston-Salem Chronicle joins the ranks of earlier Black newspapers like the North Star, published by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The quest for freedom immortalized in the preamble to the Constitution is a God given right, so Lift Every Voice, “Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us; sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought … Let us march on till victory is won.”
We have a ways to go, but Dr. King assured us that we will get there.
The Rev. Deborah Dickerson is a Winston-Salem resident.