February is Black History Month, a time to reflect on issues of race and religion and celebrate the important roles African Americans have played in the development of the United States. Recognition of those roles from a historical perspective is an important step in celebrating the contributions of individuals and the collective changes the African American community has brought about.
"Black History Month is with us because, for a variety of reasons, black history has been ignored, revised or distorted too often in our history books. We find it difficult to explore honestly the reasons a study of black history makes so many of us uncomfortable," the late Rev. Gilbert Caldwell, who was active in the civil rights movement, wrote in a UM News Service commentary a few years ago.
"We know it is essential to be historically correct about the issues in England that energized the efforts that established the United States. We understand Israel exists in the main because of the history of the oppression of the Jewish people. However, there is difficulty for some people in admitting the existence of American slavery made necessary the abolition movement and the reality of racial segregation provoked and evoked the U.S. civil rights movement," he said.
If we do not remember accurately the negatives of the past, he said, we may repeat them. "Failure to remember the negatives deprives us of the opportunity to celebrate the magnificent progress we have made as a nation since slavery and legal racial segregation," he explained.
Unsnarling U.S. and Black History, a July 2020 Dismantling Racism Town Hall
The New York Times offers info on 2021 virtual events.
Explore the 1619 Project, launched by the New York Times in August, 2019, to mark the 400th anniversary of the day (Aug. 20, 1619) a ship carrying more than 20 enslaved Africans arrived at Point Comfort in the British colony of Virginia. The United States had yet to be established, but the slaves' arrival marked the beginning of the system of slavery on which the country was built, according to the Pulitzer Center, an educational partner of the ongoing project. Because the project showcases events not routinely taught in elementary or high school American history classes and points to many ways the legacy of slavery shapes and defines life in the United States, it became controversial in the run-up to the 2020 elections. Critics labeled it "revisionist history." Learn more
Visit the website of the African American Methodist Heritage Center at http://aamhc-umc.org/
The General Commission on Race and Religion of the United Methodist Church created Vital Conversations on Racism videos as a way to begin the conversations and be part of the change in dismantling racism. Through Vital Conversations and other initiatives, the General Commission on Race and Religion offers resources to facilitate, resource, guide, and support discussions on how to move to efficacy, justice, and courageous positive action. Visit the Resource Library.
The Conference website also offers Diversity Development Resources