Celebrating Black History Month

The BCC Compass – February 2023

As we are in the cusp of Black History Month, I am once again in awe of the amazing attributes that the Black community has given to our society and my heart aches for the walls and injustices that were put in the way. It reminds me that we must continue to make choices that aid in breaking down those walls and to continue to listen and tell the stories of the past and support members of the community.

Some of you might have watched movies depicting stories you might not have heard of before. A few years ago, I watched “Hidden Figures” and was amazed about the impact that African-American women had on the NASA space program. And at the same time, I was disheartened that I did not learn about these stories in school nor was it common knowledge.

Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen, first African American Marine Corps aviator, Vietnam War Vet, and first African American Marine General Officer once shared his story with me about returning back to the Naval Air Base in Pensacola Florida from fighting in Vietnam, only to be told he had to sit in the back of the bus.

During a trip to South Africa, I had met Themba, who was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela because of his fight against the apartheid government. Yet, so many years later he spoke of forgiveness and reconciliation as a tool to heal what was done wrong to him.

So many of these stories resonate with the thread of perseverance and the desire to achieve, despite the circumstances that surrounded them.

We continue to hear stories of those who rise above their circumstances, and we should remember and embrace these lived experiences. They are to be celebrated.

Our challenge is not to settle.

Our challenge is to continue to be disturbed by the current strifes and circumstances facing the Black community or any community that has been marginalized. Continue to support the community with our presence, gifts, and voice. Be prepared to have an open heart and mind to listen and accept.