In 1926, Black historian Carter Woodson sent out a press release marking the first Black History Week in the United States. Fifty years later the commemoration was officially recognized when President Gerald Ford encouraged citizens to use the month of February to learn about and celebrate the long-neglected accomplishments and contributions of Black Americans. Woodson had originally chosen February for the event because Frederick Douglass, who had escaped slavery and became a key abolitionist and social reformer, and Abraham Lincoln, who had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, both were born in February.
At the Christian Reformed Church’s Office of Race Relations (ORR), we’re celebrating 50 years of working to dismantle racism by Christian Reformed churches and the denomination. Recognizing that the CRC is still a predominantly Euro-ethnic denomination, the ORR staff thought getting the insights of white people engaged in anti-racism work might provide unique views on the importance of Black History Month.
Louise Wing is the director of administration at ReFrame Ministries. She said, “By making available more extensive Black history, particularly first-hand experiences, future generations will have a full understanding as they work to create an anti-racist environment for their children. They will be able to end continued injustices.”
Rev. Al Mulder, author of Learning to Count to One: The Joy and Pain of Becoming a Multiracial Church, commented, “Getting better acquainted with Black brothers and sisters also helps us as white persons to grow in our relationship to Christ. As Christians, Christ is in us (Col. 3:3); his life and love are expressed through each of us. Yet how Christ’s life and love flows through us is unique to who we are—family influences, ethnic origins, racial backgrounds, and more. To that extent, the more I can learn from others about the love and life of Christ in them, the more fully I can experience the life and love of Christ in me.”
How do you think a focus on Black history can bless the unified body of Christ? We would love to hear your thoughts and stories about Black History Month. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.