Black History Month

(1) Black History Month-Unknown

February marks the launch of Black History Month,

a time to recognize the central role and revolutionary

work of black people in America.

Historian Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week

in 1926 and it officially evolved into a month-long

celebration forty years later. With white history being

the dominant narrative in America, the work of revo-

lutionary black Americans is often neglected and, while

it should acknowledged all the time, February serves as

a time to educate ourselves on the invaluable contri-

butions of these trailblazers.

However, this year, Black History Month, a time meant to

celebrate and embrace inclusion, also descends at a shame-

ful moment in American history. Our president ran on a plat-

form of racism, emboldened white supremacists and, in his

first week in office, has signed executive orders putting

marginalized groups in danger. The message is clear: Not

all Americans belong here.

History teaches us that black men and women have been victims

of oppression, discrimination and hate for centuries, so we

understand the fear Muslim Americans have right now, and we’re

familiar with Trump’s dogwhistle about sending the “feds” to

Chicago. However, history also teaches us that men and women

of color have been among some of the most revolutionary people

to fight back against racial challenges.

Among these heroes is Langston Hughes, the black poet who was

born on this day in 1902 and whose words accurately paint the

reality of black plight and progress. In one of his most

acclaimed poems titled “I, Too,” Hughes wrote about why being a

“darker brother” should not disqualify him from the basic liberties

afforded to white Americans. With four words at the end of the poem,

Hughes serves a striking reminder that the basis of patriotism is

not limited by race and that his blackness does not, and should not,

discount his identity as one that is not wholly American: “I, too,

am America.”

That’s why, this year, Black Voices is commemorating Black History

Month by adopting and adapting Hughes’ message to declare:

#WeTooAreAmerica. We will publish stories throughout the month that

reinforce a message that all black people ? including those who

identify as muslim, refugee, immigrant and queer ? are who help to

define the identity of this country.

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Over the last week, immigrants across America have spoken out against

Trump by using hashtags like #NoBanNoWall and #ImAlreadyHome.

Coincidentally, the hashtag #WeTooAreAmerica has also been used

previously as part to tell immigrants’ stories ? a mission slightly

different than ours.

Over the next month, Black Voices will use the hashtag to instill

hope by highlighting the history of black trailblazers like Hughes.

We will share the stories of legendary and little-known black men

and women to spread inspiration at a time we need it most. We will

recognize current-day black trailblazers in all types of industries

and fields. We will highlight black heroes who embraced inclusivity

and solidarity in their movements. We will show images of black people

engaging in acts of love to fight back against hate. We will promote

pieces that highlight the diversity among black people to honor the

many ways in which we identify. We will disseminate self-care tips to

encourage communities to prioritize mental and physical health. And,

among other things, we will resurrect stories of resistance that remind

us all that if these men and women ? armed with little protection and

resounding might ? had the courage to overcome adversity, so do we.

In reflecting on our past, we will also use these lessons to help us

paint a clearer vision for what lies ahead. For the third year in a row,

Black Voices is teaming up with the Black Lives Matter network to bring

back our “Black Future Month” blog series by inviting 28 black writers

to explore issues that affect the black community and identify ways to

make progress in these areas going forward. Each piece will also be

accompanied by powerful artwork created by 28 different black artists.

At Black Voices, we understand both the burden and beauty of blackness —

and we are committed to telling stories that explore all the complexities

of our identity and culture. We invite you to follow along on Facebook and

Twitter as we amplify the stories we believe deserve to be told, now more

than ever, and give praise to the power among our people.