Racial Equity

WE are the Future of Black History Month


On the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder last May, I wrote about my struggle to celebrate Black History Month in early 2023. I was in a state of mourning for my/our Black people who were lynched, killed and murdered. I was in a state of mourning for my/our Black people who consistently experience racism, discrimination and injustices. I was in a state of mourning for my/our Black communities who have been segregated, ignored and devalued. Last May, I grieved.

While my heart weighed heavy, I decided to celebrate Black History Month every day. I celebrated with my family as I acknowledged our ancestors, elders and my parents, who all paved the way for me and our family’s future generations. I celebrated with my WKKF family as we collectively leaned into the needs we hear from our Black residents and communities. I celebrated with my Battle Creek family when WKKF hosted the first Black Economic Summit with Black leaders from across Battle Creek community. 

And at the Summit in Battle Creek on Nov. 3, 2023, all of my celebrations converged. Maybe it was everyone in the room standing to this arrangement to Lift Every Voice and Sing. It could have been my father sharing his story about being the first Black district manager for Chevrolet in Monroe, La., and one of the first Black district managers in Jackson, Miss. Perhaps it was the hope that grew in the room after every speaker about Black leadership in the future economy – hope so palpable, we began to reach out and touch it. And it could have also been the many calls, texts and emails that I received from so many Black leaders who shared their commitments and their love for our community.

Whatever the spark (or sparks), I began to think differently about Black History Month. I will always celebrate and honor our Black people who fought injustice, championed innovation and became the “firsts” across countless fields – blazing a path for greater opportunity for generations to come. AND I am celebrating our Black people who are creating new milestones which are shaping OUR future. We’re forming history in real time, and THIS is what will be celebrated in the Black History Months to come.

As we celebrate Black History Month – or Black Futures Month – we should think about what the future can look like. To me, our racial justice future looks like a collective effort to understand the differences in opportunities and transform inequitable systems so they can restore individuals to wholeness. To me, our racial equity future looks like identity, race, ethnicity and zip code not determining how someone is treated or predict their life outcomes. To me, our racial healing future doesn’t take place in one day – it is consistently part of our culture to constantly affirm the inherent value of all people.

I hope we continue to think about ALL of our roles in Black History/Futures Month. And because it is an honor and responsibility to serve our people, families and communities – I wrote a new poem… 

WE are the future of Black History Month

WE have existed since the beginning of humankind.
Born from the land you call Africa, intricately woven into time.
1619, 1865, 1896, 1915, 1964, 1976 –
OUR history cannot be re-written and eclipsed. 

As OUR present day evolves into night…
WE continue to press forward into the light.
Seeing color (and not seeing it) is still a state of mind,
But the chains that bind, WE continue to unwind.

While the tears of resistance and resilience may flow,
WE remain steadfast and focused on what WE know.

While WE mourn behind smiling masks with hollow eyes,
WE are unbroken because WE know OUR children will rise.

While OUR hearts beat as a steady rhythm in life’s symphony,
WE sing our struggles and triumphs with dignity.

As WE move towards a future uncertain –
WE work diligently to remove the heavy burdens.
And in this fate, WE are not alone,
For the advocates, activists and allies know the seeds WE’VE sown.

As these seeds grow roots deep into the earth,
WE continue to till the land until the fruit of OUR efforts are birthed.
More voices to the voiceless, faces to faceless and hope to the hopeless,
With love, trust, and authentic dialogue, we begin to coalesce.

One day, WE will not need to yell into the void.
WE will hear hope’s voice on the wind and grasp its hand.
And together, we will create a new future together.
And it will be beautiful. 


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