God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
thou who has by thy might,
led us into the light,
keep us forever in the path, we pray
The Negro National Anthem James Weldon Johnson
In 1926 Harvard PHD Carter G. Woodson created the precursor to Black History Month when the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (An organization Woodson founded that was dedicated to the study and appreciation of African-American History.) announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week.” This week was specifically chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The initial aim of “Negro History Week: was to coordinate an effort for the teaching of Black history in all Black educational institutions. With the wheels in motion, Negro History Week was met with enthusiastic response; it prompted the creation of black history clubs, an increase in interest among teachers, and interest from progressive whites. Negro History Week grew in popularity throughout the following decades, with mayors across the United States endorsing it as a holiday.
The expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month was first proposed by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of the Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, in February 1970. In 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial, the informal expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was officially recognized by the U.S. government. President Gerald Ford spoke in regards to this, urging Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
During the month of February we will begin a new sermonic series entitled “Stony The Road We Trod: The Faith Journey of Our Ancestors”. We will explore the fight for freedom of the Nation of Israel as the metanarrative for the fight for freedom of African-Americans. The first institution that was built and owned by African-Americans was the Black Church. The Black Church has been our “everything” when we did not have public access to “anything”. In the words of religious scholar C. Eric Lincoln the Black Church was the “tool of freedom”.
The true genius of the Black Church is that it has been inclusive even while its very existence was birthed out racial exclusion. The true Black Church has never only for Black people. All of God’s children have always been welcomed to join us in this on going struggle against spiritual and social evil as we live lives committed to our Lord and Liberator Jesus of Nazareth. While Black History is everyday occurrence, we place special significance during this time because Black History IS American History.