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Know Thyself—Celebrating African American History as a Nation and as Individuals

Maybe the Caged Bird sings because of spiritual faith, cultural foundation, knowledge, wisdom and resiliency.

In order to know thyself, you have to know what you’re standing on and what you are reaching towards (the Ladder Effect)

Many have been inspired by the beauty and resiliency seen throughout African American history. Personally, I’m at awe at the vast cultural collection of African Americans among us, across all nations from east to west, north and south, around globe. Each person brings their own unique experience, perception and worldview to humanity. As I look around, I often wonder what our ancestors might say about the “here and now” of the collective human experience. What they would make of the accomplishments that Africans Americans have made, whether or not they’ve been a part of the transgenerational experience of the African diaspora. In other words, each person has a story to tell, and each African American, whatever the experience he or she might carry, has a story that can educate and inspire others. As we are learning to know ourselves, we must keep in mind that part of that process is in listening to those stories; to know what we are standing on and what we are reaching towards. Black History Month presents an opportunity to do just that. Some may celebrate this season of the year in search for identity, connection and a freedom to express the fullness of the Black being, of existence and consciousness relating to Intersectionality in America. In essence, this month fosters pride, dignity and self-awareness among many.

The contributions of African Americans to our history can inspire us in the present

What class, patience and grace bleeds through the veins of African Americans. What bravery and resiliency in the overcoming of many moons, even in daylight, within many years of ‘Becoming’. The peaceful reservation of the iron sword—wisdom—continue to produce and birth echoes of prosperity and change by the internal psychological organization of African American footprints as transgenerational Kings and Queens within humanity’s current and past history continue to operate. This month of reflection brings up gratitude for those brave, wise, and resilient African Americans throughout this country’s history. Persons of African American descent have made significant contributions in Medicine, Calligraphy, Technology, Bibliography, Psychology, Literature, Government, Alchemy, Mathematics, Architecture Design (e.g., D.C.’s White House), Astrology, Chemistry, Quantum Bits, Telephone (Hello?), Sports (e.g., Hockey), Music (e.g., Classical), Education, the Clock, Entertainment, Fashion, and many other fields. Two such contributors are beloved poets and authors Maya Angelou and Paul Laurence Dunbar, who have touched us all in their image of the caged bird. It certainly holds significance and meaning for many humans, and it holds even more weight for African Americans. This month, then, is the month to connect to that caged bird, and to find strength in pain and wisdom in learning from past experiences. To do that, we can look into our own lives, as well as of African people in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Egypt, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Belize, Jerusalem, United Kingdom, Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica, France, Colombia and the honorable individuals of African American descent in the United States of America, as well as many unmentioned parts of the earth. It seems that from our fellow birds across the globe, we learn that sometimes God will allow you to go through things in order for you to make a way out and through for others. Moreover, we are learning that sometimes your position or role in the world might change before your condition is improved, but we can still keep pressing on, waiting, expecting, multiplying in fruitfulness and inherit. Lastly, we are learning to keep on keeping on! To live life, love, keep faith and enjoy and facilitate liberty until the end of time.

How can each of us celebrate Black History Month?

As Americans, we can get in touch with the Black history of our country by taking a bit of time this month to educate ourselves about one of the topics mentioned above and exploring the contribution of African Americans to one (or more) of those fascinating fields

You can also scroll through some interesting documentaries made out especially for this month that discuss certain angles of the African American experience. Some suggestions include “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross,” “Dark Girls,” and “Eyes on the Prize.”

Lastly, you can use the complicated history (and present) of African Americans in our country to gain insight into your own perceptions of African American history, your own experience asAfrican Americans or withAfrican Americans, and to truly be open to the complexity and richness that comes up. This way, you might allow yourself to truly celebrate this month personally, as an American, as an African American, and as a free human.

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