There have been just 10 black senators since Emancipation. Just ten, starting with Hiram Revels one hundred fifty years ago. That striking fact alone is evidence enough of how moderate our progress has been, and how much more there is to do. We need to take time to both elevate and uncover the contributions of black Americans and at the same time, be honest about the structures and systems that have supported their omission and kept whiteness at the center of what is considered American. Black History Month isn’t a reason to silo these conversations in February and keep to the status quo all the other months, but it is an opportunity to dig a little deeper each year.
In case you missed it, every day this month, the display on the library window has highlighted a different person, place or organization important to our history. There were one-pagers to take away for each, including Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Juneteenth, the Harlem Hellfighters, Elijah Cummings, The Negro Leagues in Baseball, and others. I’ve attached the collection here so that you can use them at home as conversation starters, invitations to question and research, and provocations to wonder, remember, and discuss. Happy Black History Month.