5/26/1966: Close-up of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The way we’re often taught to think about history as children is a linear progression. Bad things happen in the past and then we move on.
But that’s not exactly true. Things rarely happen the exact same way twice, but systems of oppression have a way of cycling through time.
Ultimately, knowing your history is the only way to break that cycle. As we head into this Black History month, it’s never been more important to hold onto our history, especially as the right does its best to claw it out of our collective conscience.
Now, I’m sure you’re all expecting a rant about Governor Ron De Santis, but frankly, he’s gotten enough of our time. I want to talk about why we need to continue talking about our real history.
If all you learn about Black History was that Martin Luther King Jr. wanted a “colorblind” society, it’s easy to buy into a pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality. Who needs affirmative action if we live in a “colorblind” world, right?
If you don’t learn about queer Black figures like James Baldwin, you might struggle to understand the link between LGBTQ+ rights and the broader fight for Black liberation.
And if you never learned about Angela Davis, you’d lack context for the state-sanctioned violence we live with on a daily basis.
People want us to forget our history because it holds the key to our liberation. We can see what’s worked and what hasn’t and how we ultimately win.
So consider this a call to arms. Don’t let these lessons die. Pick up a copy of Notes of a Native Son by Baldwin. Talk to your children and neighbors about the civil rights movement, slavery, and redlining. Demand answers for why our unvarnished history isn’t worth including in the winding arc of this country’s story.
We must fight to preserve our history like our lives are on the line because they are.
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