February 3, 2011

Reflect on the Past, Celebrate the Future

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

Black history month is a time for celebration and for reflection. We celebrate our rich history; all of the triumphs and all of the obstacles we’ve overcome.  We reflect on the struggles of our past; the times of trial and the days where we could not see the light from the darkness of the perils that lay before us. 

Frederick Douglass once said “If there is no struggle, there is no progress…This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle”. I think about our ancestors fighting for the right to their freedom.  I think of our ancestors fighting for the right to vote.  I think of our ancestors fighting for the right to equality in the eyes of society.  We truly stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and allow us to enjoy the benefits of all that they struggled for.

Because of those who suffered the horrors of slavery, we are now free from the shackles of the past. Because Ezekiel Gillespie refused to be denied the right to vote in Wisconsin, we can proudly go to the polls on Election Day and cast our ballot.  And because of those who led the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, we have a more equal society than 50 years ago.  All of these efforts have moved us forward to where we are today, a place of hope and optimism.

Although February is designated as Black History Month (ironically the shortest month of the year), we don’t need to limit our celebration to 28 days out of the year. If we’re truly honoring all the achievements that African Americans have done for this country, it would surely take longer than one month.  I get up everyday and celebrate Black History in my house.