(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,
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.
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.