February is designated as Black History Month. There are few who believe more than I that the unsung and undervalued contributions of such a formidable people should be veered far more than a virtual nod one month out of the year. Whether there is a deserving acknowledgment by others is far less significant than whether there is an appreciation by those of us who know the battles fought for God-given rights and the assets bestowed this country by the creativity, ingenuity and talents of a disregarded population.
As far as I'm concerned, the only way we can even begin to truly honor those who gave their lives, their talents and served as sacrificial lamb, for generations they would never know, is to live our lives -- every single day -- as a tribute to them. The reality is that honoring our fore-brothers and fore-sisters is honoring ourselves. Dishonoring our fore brothers and fore sisters is dishonoring ourselves. There is no escape from this truth.
What, then, is the more specific challenge to remembering and celebrating Black History? (I refuse to reduce what already has been reduced, diluted and practically obliterated to a "month.") Well, frankly, we can only hold up the greatness of those whose shoulders on which we stand by standing up in greatness ourselves. To do anything less is to make a mockery of such a rich foundation and the lives devoted to creating a greater life and society for all people.
Greatness does not require national recognition or fame. Greatness does not require inventing or discovering anything. True greatness is honoring the best of who we are. You can choose greatness right where you are.
As much as I would love to throw a party and let out a sigh of relief, I cannot. While we definitely have much for which to be grateful, stand up proudly and celebrate, we have a ways to go. We are not doing our part if we are not taking the ball that's been passed on to us and running with it. We have to take the ball and run with it like there's no tomorrow. Doing so, literally, does affect our tomorrow.
Our journey is far from over and, thus, we cannot afford to behave as though it is. Our journey is just that -- OUR journey. We -- we -- you and I -- are obligated and responsible for taking on the Dream and the fight for rights because these are ongoing tasks.
The fight for voting rights has taken a severe turn backwards because we stopped, as a unified people, standing up and fighting for our civil rights by going to the polls and casting our ballots as though our lives depend upon it. And by the way, it does! Brown v. Board of Education has been, very strategically and methodically, undone, particularly in Macon and Middle Georgia, because we stopped standing up, as a unified people, and fighting for our rights and our children's rights to an equal education.
Tearing down our schools, redistricting communities, changing the methods of teaching so much so that some of our teachers - teaching our children - are admonished for using books to teach, and establishing outlandish opposition to school officials who bring ideals and ideas to the school district designed to improve the learning capabilities and opportunities to excel for all children have all taken place and played a critical part in leaving some children behind, all under the guise of a "leave no child behind" mission. If these atrocities bring me to tears and have our fore-brothers and fore-sisters turning in their graves, certainly every parent should be standing in solidarity so strong that change for the better is inevitable.
In the yesteryears, shot guns, lynches, killer dogs and other intimidating tactics were used to discourage, deter and eradicate African Americans' progression. While today, there are different weapons used, they are no less powerful. I must, however, be fair. There has to be an accountability, at some point, for free will. Yes, the emotional and mental damage that have afflicted a people can only be understood and appreciated by a member of this population but this does not relieve any one of her responsibility.
As I encounter my share of outrageous treatment on a regular basis in this society, I often try to imagine how the generations that brought me here endured what they did. I even shudder at some of the experiences I have had to encounter. I, then, shudder less for myself when I look around at the experiences of others who are shot down, today, in broad daylight, like wild animals. The sentiment of one who can do such a thing and the sentiment of one who can condone such a thing -- through words and actions, is strong in 2014. Too strong for 2014.
This sentiment is manifested throughout all threads of the fabric of society. Whether in grocery stores, in the classroom, in the workplace, in politics and, of all places, even in churches, the sentiment is alive and well. There are too many of us with too many personal stories to support this.
The great news is there is still time to tell a different story. We can tell the story about how a resurgence in a movement for the civil rights of all people turned things around! As we tell African American children about their lineage of greatness, we can do even better and show them by our actions and then lead them by our example. We are to become all we can and help others become all they can. This is the epitome of greatness.
Our children are our future. They are our legacy. What kind of legacy will we leave? Do we really want to leave our children with limitations and a life that our generations sacrificed their lives to leave behind?
Failure to vote for one who works on behalf of your best interest is to vote for one who does not work on behalf of your best interest. Failure to see that your children receive equal quality education is to see that your children will be uneducated and unemployable.
With the hope of bringing you closer to your greatness, I close with a challenge for you:
1. Celebrate the richness of your heritage and honor the blood lost by honoring one another. Stand up and speak out every single day and continue the fight for your God-given rights.
2. Be the history teller for your children. They will never know who they are or where they're going if they never know from whence they come or how they got here.
They should know that they stand on the shoulders of greatness. They will begin to feel the greatness that resides within. They will also become aware of the snares in the world and be prepared for them.
3. Finally, be honest with yourself when you ask yourself, "Who's standing between me and my greatness?"
Do not be surprised if you find the answer is in your mirror, for greatness is a choice.
I am a professional with a diverse background and a unique blend of expertise.