A Few Tips as We Observe Black History Month

A Few Tips as We Observe Black History Month

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Remember the days of old, consider the years long past; ask your father, and he will inform you; your elders, and they will tell you. Deuteronomy 32:7

As February approaches, many congregations and others are thinking about how they will observe Black History Month.

Certainly, we will celebrate the lives of people such as Rosa Parks and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “We Shall Overcome” no doubt will be sung during many worship services.

I rejoice in all of that. I also look forward to the ways that some congregations, organizations, and individuals will move beyond these traditional approaches to the month to try something new or different.

For those who hope to go in a different direction this year but are struggling to figure it out, I offer a few suggestions:
  • Look at your own community – Elevate stories about Black people, Black movement for justice, or Black organizations in your own hometown. Maybe check out a local museum that highlights some of this history. Invite congregants and friends to join you.
  • Share stories about Black joy and celebration – Black history is not only about the traumas experienced by African Americans. Bring some other stories into your worship service.
  • Remember that Black history does not begin with slavery -- Check out some stories about Black life before the Middle Passage.
  • Black history did not end in the 1960s -- What are the stories you can share about the last decade, last year, or last week? Black people were doing things even then.
  • Don’t forget the stories of our faith -- What Black folks made major contributions to the development of our Christian faith? Who has been influential within the United Church of Christ?
  • Let the stories propel you to act – How do stories of history inform you and your community to engage today? Perhaps stories about efforts to gain voting rights can inspire work against efforts to restrict voting. Maybe thinking about the ways in which Black people in the U.S. have been systematically oppressed can lead you to speak out against those who seek to remove books about these topics from school libraries.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I offer it only with the hope that it will inspire your thinking as you remember the days of old and consider the years long past. I look forward to seeing what comes from the creative, committed, and brilliant people in our congregations and conference at large.

Blessings and power!



Photo from Unseen Histories/Unsplash

Author

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James D. Ross II

Rev. Ross is the Minister for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Southern New England Conference UCC.

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