February is Black History month, when you may hear and read about many efforts and accomplishments made by our African American heroes. It is a time set aside to continue the discussion about Black people, their struggles, and their achievements; a time to reflect on the past while paying tribute to those who struggled to earn some of the rights that we now have. One of the main focuses of this celebration is to make all Americans aware of the difficulty that Black people experienced in obtaining freedom and equal opportunity.
Last month, I had the privilege and honor of hearing former Attorney General Eric Holder in person at the 31st Martin Luther King Luncheon held at the Peoria Civic Center. In his opening statement, he reflected that if Dr. King had lived to see this year, he would have been 94 years old. Mr. Holder spoke of the good works of Dr. King and how a lifetime of good works stood before him but was shortened due to his early death. He stated that much work is yet to be done. Then he challenged the audience to think of something we could do in our everyday lives to further Civil Rights and Justice in America. He acknowledged that the progress made under former President Barack Obama was good, yet progress is not nearly enough. We have to rise above the progress.
After hearing his suggestion, the question marinated in my mind. What can I do in my everyday life to further Civil Rights and the Justice System? Immediately my thoughts steered toward my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild. I believe I can start by educating them on some of the history that I have experienced that they may not be familiar with. I need to focus on spending some leisure time to take them to visit Black historical sites and museums. I can help to influence the knowledge of our culture, beliefs and values. We can also ensure that our children get a good education in and outside of school, as knowledge is power. We should teach them the power of respect, the importance of speaking out against unjust things that affect us, and how to do it in a non-violent manner. We must teach our children to be the best they can be.
I was so impressed with our “keynote speaker,” Eric Holder, that I went online and ordered his book, “Our Unfinished March.” I wanted to learn more about his thoughts, beliefs, and values. I love quotes and meaningful words that send my mind to thinking outside of the norm and outside the current box to what should be and what could be. If you are a lover of books and meaningful expressions, I encourage you to buy this book. It is an entertaining and interesting read.
While February is a month of celebrating Black History, I believe that we can celebrate the history of Black people all year round.