Every month is black history month to me. I dig into all the black history I can find. When I tell people that I am into reading and studying black history they usually look at me with a puzzled look and ask “Why?” as if to say, “What’s a white guy doing that for?”
Here are some of my reasons:
1) I find most of the black history makers to be amazing people who overcame almost impossible odds. For example, men and women who were held by intimidation and violence in forced bondage, denied any education, and treated like animals, courageously found ways to survive without hatred. Many found ways to escape and to tell (and write) their stories in some of America’s greatest literature called slave narratives.
2) Black history reveals many cruel secrets of American history, what I call hidden history. Without black (and Native American) history, American history is whitewashed and incomplete. I want to know the whole story of American history, not just the parts that make America look good.
3) As a white guy, I want to understand the full American experience, not just my own or the experience of people with a similar skin shade. I want to, as much as I can, learn from their experiences.
4) To ignore black history is a form of denial — a pretending that it didn’t happen or was irrelevant.
5) I find black history both inspiring and heart-rending. It makes me feel great pain and compassion for those who suffered unjustly on our shores and it amazes me with the human ability to overcome. “The Negro’s past, this endless struggle to achieve and reveal a human identity, human authority; yet contains for all its horror, something very beautiful.” –James Baldwin
6) When I read black history I discover and am challenged by a passionate Christian faith and trust in God that is a rarity in our time period.