We’ve grown up with Black History Month as a backdrop for our lives. Remember your first attempts at diligently staying inside the lines of crude crayon drawings on mimeograph paper? We drew images depicting these “heroes” of our recent past, many of which we had just been introduced to: Martin Luther King, Sojourner Truth, Marian Anderson, Arthur Ashe, Thurgood Marshall ... the list goes on and on.
During this historic month, our older children will bring home articles with esoteric facts and pictures. They will ask us, “Did you know ... about the first open heart surgery, miraculous inventions like the traffic light, the electric iron, and more.” I used to read those depictions as a child looking for the wonderful things that had happened on my birthday—the affirmation created by discovering that someone who looks like me did something ... special. From Buffalo Soldiers to Tuskegee Airmen, achievements by African Americans are woven into the tapestry of this country like a vibrant golden thread. While it is good and right that we celebrate these events in the history of our great nation, I also believe that every American needs to take a moment to pause, to reflect, and to ask themselves this question, “What will be my place in history?” I believe that we share the idea that as a nation and as a people, our best days lie ahead of us.
Every day, each of us has an opportunity and a responsibility to make a difference in this world. The recent inauguration serves as a vivid reminder that history is constantly being written–and one day our future descendants will look back on these defining moments as part of the historical narrative of Black History Month. What legacy will we leave to add to that story? Perhaps when the small hands of the future put crayon to paper, it will be our faces that they color in and take home to their parents. What stories will be told about us?