Black History Month: ‘Black History is our Inclusive History’
February 10, 2014 by Guest contributor
The following post, part of HRC's Black History Month series, comes from Nita Mosby Henry. Dr. Mosby Henry is the Executive Director of the Office of Human Resources – The Human Resource Agency for the City and County of Denver. She is also the Founder/Director of The Kaleidoscope Project, a community-based organization designed to increase social and health equity within communities:
Black History Month ignites many of my emotions: as a Black person, as a woman, as a mother, as a member of the LGBT community. In many ways, the month represents not only the accomplishments, trials and tribulations of Black people, it also represents how far we’ve come and yet how far we have to go. It provides a necessary snapshot that each of us can apply to our own lives…and we should.
My life has been that historical snapshot. On one end, I’m old enough to have lived in the segregated South, where there were still “Negroes Not Allowed” policies and separate water fountains. At the same time, I’m old enough to experience marriage equality occurring in parts of the United States and other parts of the world. On one end, I’m old enough to have witnessed cross-burnings while attending the University of Alabama, yet at the same time, I’m old enough to experience a Cheerios commercial featuring a bi-racial family. I’m old enough to have been shunned from the church because of my sexuality, yet am old enough now to be a ministry leader in the Black church. The evolution is stunning. The snapshot is poignant.
Black History Month is about freedom. My freedom and yours. It is a painful reminder of what it took for us to be right here…right now. Where would I be right now without the courage and complex architecture of Harriet Tubman moving slaves through the Underground Railroad? Consider this: what would women be experiencing were it not for the virtually unknown Sarah Boone, a Black inventor who in 1892 decided the basic ironing board needed to be designed with “curves” to improve the quality of ironing sleeves and the bodies of women's garments? Where would we all be if it were not for Black inventor Garret Augustus Morgan, who in 1923 invented the automatic traffic signal? Our basic necessities of life came from this Black history. Black history is our inclusive history. The world has benefited on all levels from this history and our LGBT activism is rooted in the culture of this work. My Black History is your history and our future.
As we march forward, literally and figuratively, in this world still plagued with inequity, the whisper in my ear comes from the past. My ancestors. Those who said, “Enough is enough.” Those who said, “Let’s try this.” Those who said, “This can be improved.” Those who said, “What about the people we left behind?” Those who dared to challenge the norm. My Black history is your history, too. The fuel for the flame holds true today. The ancestral whisper in my ear whispers in your ear, too. It says continue to fight for inclusion, for love, for peace.
What is your snapshot? How does your freedom ring? Do you know where that spirit, that fire in your belly, comes from? Who whispers in your ear?
Thank you Martin, Malcolm, Harriet, Sojourner, Rosa, Frederick, George, Dred, W.E.B., Marcus, Medgar, Emmett, Elijah, Ida B…
I hear your whisper and I shall proceed.