By Pastor Joseph L Green
Why do we still have to talk about race? Aren’t we all just Americans? These are some of the many utterances that come up every time “Black History Month” comes around. Black History month is something that many people think should just go away.
In 1976 during the bicentennial year in America, February officially became “Black History Month”. It was an expansion of “Negro History Week” originated by Carter G Woodson and “The Association for the Negro Life and History” in the 1920’s. At its genesis, Woodson contended that this observance was essential for the survival of the black race within “broader society”. Woodson writes: “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated”.
The belief behind Black History month was to remind America that black people should be treated equally. That blacks were a vital part of the building of America. It was a way of combating racism and racist views that some have held towards blacks. We have made great strides but we have to acknowledge that racism does still exist in America. Just think, only about 50 years ago black people were legally barred from using the same bathrooms as whites in some areas of this country. Do we still have a need for a month celebrating the historical contributions of black people? Unfortunately, I would have to say yes.
I am a Pastor, and from the Christian worldview there shouldn’t be a need for black history month. In a perfect world people would be valued strictly by the “content of their character and not the color of their skin” as Dr. King once dreamt. If we lived in a place where everyone would be promoted and given opportunities based strictly on their merits and abilities then yes discontinue it; but we don’t live in that place, yet.
In 2014 I was mentoring an 11 year old boy. It surprised me to know that he believed that Dr. Martin Luther King helped end slavery. He is not in the minority however. Many of our young people don’t know their history or the important issues that surrounded the civil rights movement.
Why do we still need to celebrate a month dedicated to Black History? Firstly, it’s important for non-blacks to realize that black people have made many contributions to the building of America. The American dream was made possible in part by the contributions of black people. Even in the face of slavery and the many other horrible acts perpetrated against blacks over the last 300 plus years.
My second reason for the celebration of Black History is to remind black people of their past. They need to be reminded that blacks fought for the opportunity of an equal education; to maintain our family structure even when slavery and racism tried to tear our families apart. We demanded to be able to sit in the front of the bus even when it was illegal and to be treated with dignity and respect. We came together to pray to God believing that He could help us overcome racial oppression. It was and is a true testament to what can happen when we work together for a common cause.
In 2015, we still have a large number of blacks that do not take advantage of the opportunities they have towards education. Many still sit in the back of the bus and the back of the class even though they don’t have to. We still have the highest incarceration rate of any race in America. Over 30% of all abortions in America are performed on black babies. Some even embrace the “N” word even though it was given to us through hatred and violence. The mistreatment of black women promoted through music and videos has become commonplace. Black lives do matter and at times it seems like that message needs to be heard more by blacks than non-blacks.
The Bible tells us that there will be a time in which all men will live together in peace and racism and self-hate will be a thing of the past. As a Pastor I will do everything in my power to expedite that process. In the meantime I believe that it is important to have a memorial that never lets us forget that the descendants of African slaves helped to build America. That they fought and died for this country and have been a vitally important part in the development of the greatest nation in the world!
Pastor Green is the Pastor and co-founder of Antioch Assembly in Harrisburg, Pa. He is a husband, a father, a businessman and an author. He is married to Gwendolyn Green and together they have 3 children.
He is a 1985 graduate of Harrisburg High School and attended University of Pittsburgh and Towson University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in communications. He also spent four years in the United States Navy.
He is on the board of directors for the Bethesda Mission located in Harrisburg, Pa. and the founder of “The Josiah Project”, a mentoring project for troubled teens in the city of Harrisburg. He is on the advisory committee of March for Jesus PA and Healing Tree International Ministries. He is the author of three books; “From Kilos to the kingdom”, an autobiography of a life transformed, “The church that will turn the world upside down”, and “Standing on the Rock”, a book that discusses race, religion, politics, and faith. http://antiochassembly.com