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Why it's important to celebrate Black History Month

Black History Month is an opportunity to remember and further understand the complex history of African Americans in America. It's important to do this in order to better recognize the ongoing implications it has on our present reality. This is by no means an easy task. Yet, as God’s church, we are told that we are one body called by the same Spirit to one faith in one Lord. With a soft and open heart, we can pursue unity, love, and understanding together.

This was the aim of Carter G. Woodson, a black historian and originator of Black History Week in 1926. He believed that appreciating a people’s history was a prerequisite to equality. He wrote of the commemoration, “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world.” That is, no amount of legislation can grant you equality if a nation doesn’t value you.

Five reasons to celebrate Black History Month (adapted from Pastor Ben Richie)

  1. To deepen fellowship with our black Christian sisters/brothers by honoring their family stories, learning about the historical and cultural contexts that shape who they are.
  2. To cultivate cross-cultural skills in order to love our black local neighbors more genuinely and more effectively; after all, we cannot love our neighbors well without knowing their stories and without sharing a “common memory” of the past.
  3. To learn more of the all too neglected history of the Black Church, recognizing that Black Church History is Church History.
  4. To model the gospel ethic of mutuality/interdependency by esteeming a subdominant culture—historically, one devalued/subjugated even in/by the Church—celebrating its people and achievements and witnessing its vast potential to fortify the ministry and mission of the Church.
  5. To grow in repentance for corporate sins committed against Black people, often in the name of Christ—sins past and present, of commission and omission—as a necessary step toward true reconciliation and interethnic unity in the Church.

I want to encourage you to check out the following resources to grow in your understanding of and your love for our African American brothers and sisters:

More Than Equals An older but excellent book by a Christian black man, Spencer Perkins and a Christian white man, Chris Rice

An article by Monet Robinson at https://radical.net/articles/four-ways-to-let-the-gospel-shape-your-response-to-racism/

An article written by D.L. Mayfield at Christianity Today: Cover Story: Facing Our Legacy of Lynching

Lastly, Acts 29 & Carolina Greenhouse sponsored event called Race, The Church, and The Gospel. Pastor Antony Frederick shared a “plea to my brothers and sisters in the faith that lead predominantly white Christian churches, denominations, networks, etc to pursue racial harmony on a “macro” level, with your African-American brothers and sisters.” You can watch the video here: https://player.vimeo.com/video/252270598

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