During the month of February our nation observes Black History Month. I’ve always been a big believer that no matter the race, gender or orientation, we should all celebrate each other and the great and positive things that we have all accomplished throughout history.
Black Americans have played a vital and crucial role in the history of this country. While it is wonderful that there is a month established to pay tribute, it is important to recognize and appreciate the accomplishments of these Black individuals, not only in the month of February, but year round.
Many of these Black Americans have also been members of the LGBTQ community. Consider the progress of just the past year; 2014 was an incredible year of achievements. We saw Laverne Cox become the first out transgender person nominated for an Emmy award. Michael Sam became the first openly gay athlete to be drafted into the NFL, and Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete to play in the NBA. Lesser known, but equally significant, was the fact that two Black LGBTQ judges, the honorable Darrin Gayles of Florida and the honorable Staci Yandle of Illinois, were confirmed to the federal bench.
Last year was a crucial one for race relations in this country. As we acknowledge the achievements and accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history this month, it’s also important to pause to look deeply at the current state of affairs in the world today. Hundreds of protests have taken place around the world against police brutality and the murder of unarmed Black citizens by police officers. Just as all LGBTQ people are rising and standing up for the right to marry, people are rising and standing up for their right to simply exist, without harassment or profiling.
The voices of the protesters should be heard and acknowledged. There are some strong commonalities in these two efforts. They deserve to be heard, for the sake of equality for all, which is something that we all strive for.
As we celebrate the incredible achievements of Black Americans this February, we need to also appreciate the struggle for equality, which is real, palpable and vital to us all. I encourage you to take some time this month to think about where we’ve been, where we are headed and how you will help us all get there.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead