Black History Month: Honoring Our Past and Looking Toward the Future

Many Black people will resoundingly agree that Black History Month – for the rest of America – is a mere moment in time to acknowledge Black peoples’ past contributions to this country, wholly independent of our own constant commemoration of Black history and all that is beautiful, powerful, unique, and sometimes grueling about the Black experience.

For us who proclaim each day of the year as a celebration of Blackness, living in the skin we're in, this month tends to serve instead as a gentle reminder to love on ourselves a little more and to outwardly give thanks, appreciation and closer observation of our ancestors for whom we are breaking barriers and pursuing excellence. Traditionally, we wear our African garbs to church on cold February Sundays, read of the heroes of the Civil Rights Era and emancipation from slavery to our children, watch televised marathons of Roots, and revere the National Black Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” We honor Black inventors and thinkers of the past, and Black champions who’ve made our present more livable and equitable.

This February though, my own version of reflection is motivated by who and what sustains me each day in Black history and present. I’m compelled to pay a bit closer attention to the powerful forces of greatness that are Black girl magic and Black boy joy that I rub shoulders with daily in the workplace, my close circle of friends, and everyday people. This month, I’ve chosen to relish the strength, bravery, resolve and togetherness that reveals itself daily in the form of Black love, Black family, Black fellowship and friendship, Black protest, Black artistry, expression and self-care, Black heroism, and so on. All of which are exemplified by a new generation of Black youth, leaders, authors, and change makers dreaming of living in an even greater future. Every single day, in big and small ways, doors are being kicked in, spaces are being filled, and seats at the table are being rearranged – all making way for a new narrative for celebrating and honoring Blackness.

Now, what feels like more than ever before, Black people are being faced with societal and structural adversities that require us to stand more firmly in our resilience and ability to thrive under pressure, and yet remain kind to ourselves and our sisters and brothers. This Black History Month, we honor those who came before us and those moving the culture forward today, bearing the brunt of what it means to fearlessly take on their Blackness 12 months of the year, with or without acknowledgment of their brilliance.

Shanae Bass

Communications and Media Relations Associate


About the Series

Since 1976, the United States has designated February as Black History Month to honor the often overlooked achievements of black Americans throughout the country’s history. Demos is honoring Black History Month by highlighting reflections from some of our staff. We welcome you to join the conversation by sharing your thoughts with us on social media using #blackhistorymonth.