Across the United States, February is known as Black History Month. Schools will dive into a curriculum that highlights the many achievements of African-Americans in the face of extreme difficulties and discrimination.
These individuals, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, should be remembered, honored and taught in classrooms across the country and around the world. Their bravery to stand for what is right but not popular while sacrificing their safety — and in some cases their lives — is admirable and everyone should strive to have the moral fortitude that they showed in trying times.
But I am writing this article today to not just point to the towering figures of the past who set the example, but to highlight African Americans whose present and future is bright and growing. We must recognize those that are building upon the legacies of past leaders in the black community through actions both large and small which are tugging the arc of history towards justice.
Leaders such as Stacey Abrams are fighting for voting rights throughout our nation and their efforts should be recognized and lifted up. In 2018, Abrams ran for governor of Georgia and saw the systematic disenfranchisement of voters, disproportionately African American, across the state by removing them from the voter rolls.
After narrowly losing that race, she did not disappear in despair, she organized and made sure those who lost their right to vote in 2018, regained it and then used it, significantly altering the perceived status quo, perhaps for the long-term.
On January 20, 2021, a new star was born in Amanda Gorman. She lifted the country with her poetic words, again reminding our country that words really do matter. They can inspire us to be better, they can push our country to strive for the next great achievement, they can unite a divided nation.
Right here in North Hempstead, we have seen great leaders in the black community have a vision of inclusion and equality. This was seen in the documentary, “Defining Moments”, that the Town produced just last year about the fight that leaders took during the Civil Rights movement. This movement challenged people to step up in North Hempstead to support civil rights, even in the face of divisiveness.
Then as now, we are facing a time when our political divides are deep. But I still look to our present and future leaders right here in our own communities who work to lift us up and bring us together. Our schools are full of intelligent students that continue to organize so that we can fight hate together to find common ground.
Kudos to the many young people across North Hempstead and beyond, who took to organizing their schools and communities to support an end to on-going social injustice.
The future of Black History Month is bright, across the nation and right here at home in our Town. As long as we continue to recognize the young, developing leaders, we will continue to grow as a nation. These voices have provided a blueprint on how to end injustice and create equality for all. We must recognize them and heed their call.