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Black History Month: A Moment for Self Reflection

A pair of hands holding a heart that reads "Black History Month" in Red, Yellow, and Green stripes

As Black History Month comes to a close, I want to remind you that it isn't just a calendar entry; it's a profound moment for reflection, not just on past tragedies but on our present achievements. It's a mirror held up to society, reflecting our progress and challenging us to confront the barriers to equality that still linger.

Remember that Black histories are histories from the Black diaspora. That means because of the transatlantic slave trade, the history may look different than what you might consider traditional history because Black people's historical experiences are dispersed throughout the world.

Knowing our history, you will better understand Black people's struggles, victories, resilience, and our shared humanity. Black History is about understanding the roots of inequality, the loud protests for equal justice, and the hope for change that will lead to a more just and empathic society.

For 98 years, some form of Black History Week or Month has been celebrated in the United States and other countries such as the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Jamaica. Interestingly, after almost a century, many of the same issues remain concerns today.  At this very moment, we have states that have attempted to make specific Black histories illegal to teach in public schools. According to Statista, more than half of US  states have passed measures against teaching critical race theory in schools. 

While challenges continue,  Black History Month's presence for nearly a century offers a powerful testament to the unwavering commitment to acknowledging and celebrating Black achievements. Despite some states continuing to attempt to silence certain narratives, Black voices in schools and workplaces across the world continue to speak volumes.  

With past narratives, we can ask the critical questions that pave the way for a more equitable future. "How far have we truly come in treating each other with dignity and respect?" "What barriers still stand in the way of fulfilling our ideals of equality and justice?" “How can we integrate Black history and achievements into our everyday lives throughout the year?” I hope these questions are your call to action, not just an inspirational idea.

Black History Month isn't just about celebrating progress and history; it's about challenging ourselves to improve. It's about recommitting to the principles of democracy for all, ensuring these fundamental principles reach every corner of our society.  Black History Month has served as a guiding principle illuminating the often-shadowed contributions of Black communities. While hurdles remain, the ongoing dialogue and refusal to let these stories be silenced ignite a spark of hope for a more inclusive future.

Let's stop confining Black history to a single month on the calendar as a fleeting memory. Instead, let us strive to integrate it into the essence of who we are by actively amplifying Black voices, supporting Black businesses, and advocating for racial justice throughout the year. Together, we can create a future where Black history isn't just celebrated but is an inseparable reflection of our collective identity.

Richard Butler is an award-winning Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Consultant available to coach and advise you or your organization on DEI. Richard has a breadth of experience guiding businesses, professional sports organizations, and individuals on the topics of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Click here to connect with Richard.

Richard Butler is a compensated contributor to this blog. 


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