People have often wondered why Black History Month is in February, the shortest month of the year. Apparently, this month was chosen in honor of Frederick Douglass, whose birthday is in February, and because of Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love.
Frederick Douglass was a wise man, abolitionist, and freedom fighter, who experienced numerous traumas, hardships, and barriers to progress during his enslavement. Despite these impediments, he managed to become a learned man and a leader pushing forward the quest for the freedom of Black people. He had many words of wisdom, including, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” His work and writing still resonate over a century and a half later.
There are many parallels between the life of Frederick Douglass and what young people of color are dealing with today. Historically, Black people have joined in solidarity with people in other racial groups to advocate for freedom for all. While we are celebrating Black History Month, the spirit of this observance carries over to all people of good conscience and goodwill. We are all in the same boat seeking well-being and the freedom to live and love.
This month, we acknowledge the courage and care it takes to seek well-being and freedom. As poet and activist Audre Lorde said, “When I dare to be powerful to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”
This Black History Month, each of us can take strength from the heroes of our history to consider our opportunities today — to care for ourselves, for our communities, and for a shared, equitable, sustainable future.
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