The best thing you can do this month may also be the most painful… remember. Since 1976, as a nation, we have officially recognized the month of February as Black History Month. Educate yourself. Feel. Think. Remember.
Read the Facts
Thankfully (and sadly) there is no shortage of information about the atrocities of the black struggle. Just as you study any other time period, read. And read broadly. Read people you know you agree with. Read people you know you disagree with. Read people you don’t know. In this collective reading you will arrive at the facts.
Listen to Stories
Simply reading the facts of the Civil Rights Movement though falls woefully short. It is too easy to challenge numbers or doubt history. When this history and these numbers begin to take shape is when they are attached to real people and their stories. Hollywood gets this. That’s the power of “42”… the Jackie Robinson story and “The Butler”… the story of Cecil Gaines… and other such stories. They help us to see that black history is about black people. People made in the image of God just like you and me. These same individuals were often treated like cattle and worse. Listen.
Talk About It
An important part of education is discussion. As you gather facts and hear the stories of those who lived in that hell, talk about what you are finding. Allow discussion to challenge and deepen your observances. Ask questions of friends of color. They obviously have a different perspective than you on each of the previous two categories.
You will not always be able to understand. Reading, listening, and talking affect each of us differently. But each of us can feel. Each of us can read the facts, listen to the stories, and continue to learn by talking about it. And in so doing we begin to see black history for what it is… awful, embarrassing, and a blight to Christians who stood idly by… and much, much worse. Allow that to change you. Know the difference between sympathy and empathy. Expose your heart.
So this February and hereafter, remember what you’d rather not.