For those of us who celebrate our African American history this year started off quite remarkably with some historic landmarks.
First there was the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation is not just President Lincoln's story but the story of all those who spoke out against the evils of slavery...abolitionist, freemen, run away slaves, Black churches and everyone who risked their lives to dismantle slavery. This year I learnt about the Watch Night Service which was first celebrated on Dec 31, 1862.
"At the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863; all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as many people fell to their knees and thanked God." For more information visit African American Registry and NPR. January 1 was also a symbolic day for those enslaved because the new year was also the day when slave owners would pay their debts which meant that families members could be sold away from each other read CantonRep.com. So I can only imagine what our ancestors were thinking and feeling on that historic day.
This year is also the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's speech, I Have a Dream. This speech was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. Today it is considered one of the landmark speeches of the 20th century. There will be programs throughout the year celebrating this historic event. I love the fact that Martin Luther King's birthday has been made into a day of service. Share his speech and his dream with your children so that they can hear his prophetic words.
In January, we celebrated another milestone the second inauguration of Barack Obama, the first African American president. He started out as a community organizer, and his election was the result of getting people involved in politics on a community level, reminding everyone yes, we can.
As we check the milestones of our history this month we can see that we have participated in the struggle for freedom and justice from the early abolition movement through the civil rights movement until today. African American History can not be celebrated in a day or a month but February does remind us that when we come together we can do great things.