Black History Month Starts With Mourning
Editor’s Note: The following was written by Dr. Jerry Taylor, associate professor in ACU’s Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry and founder of the university’s Carl Spain Center on Race Studies & Spiritual Action
Today is February 1, 2023, the first day of Black History Month. Tyre Nichols’ funeral was held today at the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee. Broken hearts are covering the streets of Memphis with the tearful freezing rain of grief. This city has been in unrelenting mourning since April 4, 1968. Some might forget the horrific circumstances that led to Tyre’s “memorial service” just as they might forget the historic memory of horrific circumstances that led to the cold blooded assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
Strategic and well planned efforts have been underway for some time across our nation to erase the historic memory of the traumatic human suffering that led to the month-long “Memorial Reflection” that we call Black History Month. The loud call for ending African American Studies’ classes and programs is circulating across America. We may soon hear the call for the eradication of Black History Month altogether. The fear of “wokeism” must not be allowed to drive the nation into a state of misinformed “sleepism!” Our fellow citizens cannot grow as human beings when prominent political and religious leaders impose a state of hypnotic amnesia upon the American populace. Banning certain books and programs that accurately describe the historic journey of African Americans in this country is equivalent to assaulting the short-term memory and the long-term memory of the American mind. When we refuse to acknowledge and lament our past national misdeeds of injustice as a nation we remove a huge chunk of what is needed to inform us as to who we are today as American citizens.
These tyrannical forces contribute to developing a state of national dementia and spiritual unrest in the soul of America. When African Americans have to witness the memory of their ancestors’ historic abuse in this country being systematically repressed, it triggers feelings of massive emotional trauma and mental torture. It is as if there is an irreverent spitting upon the sacred graves of the slaves and their descendents that have been brutalized and buried in the cold cemetery of oppression on American soil. Recalling and reflecting upon accurate history should not make Americans bitter, but should make us better in our mutual desire to serve and acknowledge the humanity we see in each other. Until we can lament and weep together over our past history as a nation, both the good and the evil aspects of our nation’s history, we will be unprepared and ill equipped to create a common future-history together, one that is more humane and more inclusive.
Let us weep with Tyre Nichols’ family and all those who mourn his untimely death today in the city of Memphis, Tennessee!
Until we meet again,
Heartbreaking for the black folks of America. Glen Duff, BA HSU 62, Rockwood, Ontario, Canada.