Why Christians Should Celebrate Black History Month

Black History Month. Something about it doesn’t set right with some people. Why don’t we have a White History Month or Asian History Month? Others agree with Morgan Freeman who said, “I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”

But I’ve come to think that Black History Month is a good idea for our country and the church. 

In 1926 Carter Woodson, a Harvard historian and African American, named the second week in February Negro History Week because Abraham Lincoln’s and Fredrick Douglass’ birthdays were on February 12th and 14th respectively. From the beginning the purpose of the week was to teach kids about significant moments in Black history. Then in 1976 Gerald Ford expanded it to a monthlong celebration and renamed it Black History Month saying we should “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

5 Reasons Christians Should Celebrate Black History Month

1. To remember the significant contributions made by African Americans. Why do we celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday or Labor Day? Well of course it’s because we want to celebrate the achievements of one person, in the case of President Lincoln, or a group of people, in the case of those who go to work each day to build the country. Or think of St. Patrick’s Day which started in the United States in 1737 as a way to honor Irish culture.

It seems only reasonable that the country would set aside a time to recognize the important contributions made by African Americans.

2. To remember how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. It’s always a little tricky to quantify racial progress but let’s start with some statistics from the Brookings Institute.

In 1940, 60 percent of employed black women worked as domestic servants; today the number is down to 2.2 percent, while 60 percent hold white- collar jobs.

In 1958, 44 percent of whites said they would move if a black family became their next door neighbor; today the figure is 1 percent.

In 1964, the year the great Civil Rights Act was passed, only 18 percent of whites claimed to have a friend who was black; today 86 percent say they do, while 87 percent of blacks assert they have white friends. 40 percent of African Americans now consider themselves members of the middle class.

As much progress has been made there is still much left to do. Black History Month allows Christians to thank God for the former and pray and work for the latter.

3. To give thanks to God for the work of the black church. The Civil Rights Movement was a Christian movement led by pastors and organized in churches. Music as diverse as gospel, blues, and jazz were rooted in black spiritual music at home in the church.

4. To remember that black history is our history. This might be controversial but I don’t mean it to be. It’s just that majority populations tend to forget or overlook the contributions of minorities. But when we stop to remember how minorities have contributed to the country it reminds us how much we need each other. We are a stronger country because we are a diverse country.

5. To remember God is glorified by diversity.

Revelation 5:9 tells us that Jesus was crucified so that through “blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

God isn’t colorblind and neither should we be. God is more glorified in being praised by blacks and asians and whites and arabs and islanders than he is by any single nationality or race.

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