Karen Groce-Horan is the Senior Director of Diversity Equity Inclusion Priorities at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley.
February begins amidst crisis and concern in our country. The looming and pronounced threats to our very democracy are evident in voting rights at risk nationwide, challenges to women’s right to choose, threats on people’s very lives due to politics and position and the troubling findings of the Jan. 6th commission.
This leaves me wondering how we are regressing back to troubling times, and I’m reminded of Winston Churchill’s quote:
“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
It stresses the importance of knowing our history and understanding that we have been taught a history with gaps and grave omissions. This is why it is imperative for us to re-educate ourselves about those missing pieces of history.
This February, as focus turns to Black History Month, I implore us to first, not limit this learning to one month, and secondly to dig deep to find those truths and figures in history that weren’t included in our textbooks of last century.
Explore the history of the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, which much like Black Wall Street has not been included in our books and history lessons. Learn the troubling truths of Black suffrage, voting rights and voter suppression.
Isn’t it startling that Black women did not have the right to vote until 1965? My Black mother didn’t have the right to exercise her political will until she was 34; my grandmother until she was 61. This to me puts squarely into context the very clear understanding of what’s at stake with the current struggle to pass voter rights legislation ensuring equity and access in voting. Learn about current tactics from this link on digital voting rights suppression.
Discover the history of little-known figures like Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old who, 9 months prior to Ms. Parks, was arrested in the same city of Birmingham, Ala. for refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Learn the story of Phillis Wheatley, enslaved and sold on a Boston dock at 7 years of age and near death after the harrowing middle passage.
Discover hidden figures like Ralph Bunche, first Black American to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, prior to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Howard Thurman, an author, philosopher, theologian, and mentor of the great Dr. King.
Never before has the ease and access to learn about American and Black History been greater. Avail yourself of the resources and deepen learning and understanding so that our democracy is not doomed to the failures of our history.