Black History Month offers us all a chance to come together and share the many ways we learn about the past and how we pass on our experiences to the next generation. We can lift up unsung heroes and notable characters from our own family histories, as well as discuss contemporary lessons from well-known figures like the Moses of her day, Harriet Tubman, the dreamer for us all, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the bold, revolutionary spirit known as Malcolm X.
For my own organization, the National Council of Negro Women, Black History Month is a time to celebrate our incredibly rich and wondrous past by remembering amazing accomplishments and even more amazing she-roes and heroes who achieved against the odds to make the impossible now a commonplace reality. This Black History Month was even more special for NCNW. Just the other day we celebrated the renaming of Washington D.C.'s historic post office in honor of our long-time leader and visionary stalwart, Dr. Dorothy I. Height. This event marks the first time in history a federal building in the nation's capital has been named after an African-American woman. The next time you're near Union Station, drop by and visit this historic building named after our own historic civil rights and women's rights icon, our dear, Dorothy.
I have a very personal love affair with Black History Month. Some of my earliest memories are of absolutely loving to learn about the past of my people. I have certainly been encouraged by the stories of pride, accomplishment, and unbelievable bravery and ingenuity my mother and grandmother shared with me while reflecting on their own experiences living in the Jim Crow South. Of particular inspiration to me was their creative way of overcoming boundaries to the education they valued so dearly.
As a child of Virginia, Jim Crow ran deep. Of course, during my mother's formative years, not only did she experience segregated schools, as was typical of that time, but what many people may not know is that not only were the schools themselves separate and unequal, the transportation to school was nonexistent for black children who called Virginia home. This meant that black children had to walk miles to school on a daily basis while white children rode by them in state-provided school buses.
Undaunted, my grandparents organized other black parents in the area, who then pooled their money to buy their own bus. They then took turns driving that bus to ensure that their children got to school safely each day. What a creative and courageous act. An act that took commitment, the willingness to sacrifice, and a tremendous love for their children and the possibilities that lay ahead for them in a future filled with opportunities yet unseen. That act, many decades later, still fills my heart with pride. Yet, it is just one of the many stories that are part of the fabric woven together to create the beautiful tapestry that is Black History.
You will find many other reflections in the posts at the MomsRising.org blog carnival celebrating Black History Month, including memories passed from generation to generation from the voices of moms, dads, kids and grandparents. This is a rich space for reminiscing, telling our families' stories, and for sharing our thoughts on black history and our current political climate. We welcome you to share your thoughts, perspectives, and stories as well, and to pass these stories on to generations yet to come.
This blog comes from MomsRising.org and each week explores innovative ideas to strengthen 21st Century American families through public policies, business practice, and cultural change.