Black History Month: Hope for the Future

Another year has passed. Black History Month is upon us once again. Yet many Black communities continue to face bleak conditions including the lack of gainful employment, the persistence of gun violence, and an intergenerational cycle of disadvantage. And as we celebrate the semi-centennial of landmark civil rights victories, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, many can’t help but wonder how we’ve been taken adrift from the progressive achievements of the Civil Rights Movement and the foundation of Black History Month. The outcry for racial justice has reverberated from NYC to Ferguson, MO to Oakland , CA. America once again is at a crossroads.

The release of the movie, Selma, was significant to our present generation; not only because of the movie’s historical significance, but also due to its relevance in the present moment. The movie exemplifies the strength and courage of our leaders and also showed us that they too were ordinary people, like you and me. Most importantly, it illustrated the power of hope.  Although, in many cases, the concept of hope has been so widely used that the term itself has become clichéd. Now more than ever what is needed is hope.  

Hope is different from positive thinking, from merely believing in ourselves.  It is more than wishing that things will work out.  Hope is what we reach for when conditions are dismal, plans don’t materialize or there’s great uncertainty of an intended outcome. Thus, hope is tenacious; persistent; determined.  All of the great leaders of Black History are recognized because of one thing - hope.  To be clear, not because they had hope, but because they activated their hope when it was necessary. They stared in the face of what must have seemed to insurmountable obstacles and life threatening risks. Yet they stood up and marched on; armed with nothing but hope and collective dreams of justice. 

What is encouraging about the present moment is that there are local emerging leaders throughout the country who are willing to answer the clarion call for hope.  By actuating hope, this generation is poised to address the issues of violence, poverty, and racial injustice. This generation understands that our social and economic issues require our community leaders, students, churches, and community based organizations to come together in the spirit of our black history to ignite hope into our black future.

       Eddie Melton
       ICSSBM Chairman