An African American History Month Message
We are reaffirming our mutual interests of all communities, families, races, and ethnicities, in promoting African American History Month. As we evoke the spirit of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, “The Father of Black History,” we are reminded the African Diaspora has made many gains and contributions to the soul of America. We are reminded that history can heal and redeem us. We are reminded that history can grant a people pride and give hope to their posterity. We are reminded that history can light a lamp to our feet.
Henceforth now and until we live out the true promises of our national creed to establish principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity, the charge for change must go forward. The charge for our institutions to transform must go forward. The charge for our realms of power to shake and shift must go forward. The charge to change our educational systems and curriculums which lack culturally responsive pedagogy must go forward. The charge that our mass media outlets to stop feeding us depressing images, relative dearth, daily heinous crimes, and end inferiority conditioning must go forward. We must charge our judicial system to examine and interpret cases from the lenses of (as expressed by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer) a three-pronged approach: what does history say about the matter, recognition that issues and statutes have a purpose, and look at the consequential nature of decisions.
We must wrap our minds around the fact that unity and unanimity do not mean uniformity. But our state and nation can coalesce on principle of excellence for all people and strengthening commercial and investment cooperation in economically suppressed localities. We must see that voting rights and expanding access to ballot box is an American and Republican issue, not solely a Democratic one. We must overturn dominant paradigms. We must critically interrogate our beliefs, motivations, assumptions, holy scriptures, and legislative processes on equality.
We ought to reimage our institutions and constructs:
Government combined with free enterprise aims to ensure economic stability and helps individuals and industry protect themselves from larger sociopolitical and economic forces they could not confront alone. Ladders of opportunity must penetrate the lives of people. We ought to see that human capital is not a liability to manage but assets to develop. Some among us need a floor underneath, a safety net around us, and for the ceiling to not seem insurmountable.
Race and race-related statutes, ordinances, and amendments are enshrined into our legal fabric. I am of the belief that America was (small letter p) progressive the years leading up to the abolition of slavery and during the Reconstruction years. Racialized voting is codified into the 15th Amendment. It states, “Section 1: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” Yet, across the nation communities of color (more specifically Black and Brown) are being decentralized and disenfranchised by congressional partisan gerrymandering. The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act will halt such action nationwide. For that reason, the Senate’s failure and resistance to pass the bill results in un-American, rigged, power grabbing, and landslide historic Republic victories nationwide. We are to remember that according to the 2020 census data and history, African Americans still are concentrated in urban areas and the South. Yet, the new unfair maps remove political strongholds from the marginalized group.
Legislators from the days of old knew gender inequality was an issue of national concern. It was pervasive enough to attempt to correct the error with the Nineteenth Amendment. It states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
We must give birth to hope, and powerlessness must die. The Prophetic Visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tells us, “When you are right, you cannot be too radical and when you are wrong you cannot be too conservative.” Everyday and superfluous during African American History Month, culturally responsive education ought to be centered on articulating clear learning expectations and goals that are appropriate to students’ heritage. It causes us to answer tough questions such as:
1. What are some catalysts to change the way we can teach and lead in a more inclusive way?
2. Ask yourself unequivocally, “When was the last time I read or conducted in depth action research on a culture, heritage, or nationality other than my own?”
3. How has implicit bias, forced migration, deportation, and chronic poverty impacted the students we educate?
4. How do I/we summon the courage to educate in a way that celebrates the positive strides of Black, Brown, Red, and Yellow persons?
5. Is what we are teaching inspiring greatness among our students or is it recreating and manifesting pain and/or oppression? (i.e., Let us shift from the overemphasis on the Civil War (a Confederate States of America defeat) to magnifying the unparalleled and unduplicated financial and political advancements made by the emancipated population during the Reconstruction era).
6. Is what we are teaching stirring up in our pupils the desire to be ambassadors for their communities?
It requires us to:
(a) Use a variety of complex text and other instructional materials which highlight achievements of individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds (i.e., Teach and learn content on the enslavement of African Americans from the perspective of the revolts, escapes, rebellions, and acts of resistance).
(b) Reorient our thinking and confront our biases and generalizations on race (i.e., We all see color. To deny one’s color is to ignore heritages, legacies, attitudes, dialects, mores, and a nation or continent of ancestral origin).
(c) Research and study with intention and intellection new content.
(d) Attend trainings and professional development sessions on revised standards, frameworks, and textbooks on the great contributions of non-white cultures and non-European descendants.
(e) Place emphasis upon cultural references and the achievements of non-dominant cultural groups and reduce the value we have placed on Eurocentrism. These shifts are central to all aspects of the art of teaching and learning.
(f) Increase funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) And Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI). Many of these institutions have not received equal resources and financial support comparative to predominantly white institutions (PWI) throughout slavery and Jim and Jane Crow segregation.
(g) Mandate all college and university students to enroll and pass a course on minority and women’s studies prior to graduation or program completion
(h) Mandate every college and university and prekindergarten through secondary institution to have courses and degree offerings in African, Indigenous, Hispanic, Asian, and gender studies. In addition, the College Board to create advanced placement curriculums and assessments of those courses.
(i) Create and execute a comprehensive plan to revitalize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. streets and others that are named after prominent historical figures across the nation; as well as reverse the decline of their surrounding communities that have been vandalized, underdeveloped, and polluted.
We ought to turn off our televisions, streaming applications, crime shows, social media, and cancel newspaper subscriptions until the mass media stops peddling that colored men and poor whites are demonic and criminals. These images socialize us to affect how we view ourselves. These methodologies and philosophies establish our societal and behavioral rules. This institution wields great power. According to Advertising Executive Tom Burrell, it presents in dramatic form to evoke emotional reactions; it informs how youth behave, dress, and talk. The media has a responsibility to reflect the very best in the human spirit and not saturate us with the sinister.
State legislatures and regions across the nation have crafted a torrent of discriminatory voting laws; despite suffrage being a fundamental ingredient in democratic societies. Whereas, in the United States of America it is an age-old issue that is one of the most contested and controversial.
We must enunciate a new message about voting expansion and mobilization. We need the courts, attorneys, and capital to engage in a substantive and significant way. We must increase credibility to the fact that important men and women sit in city councils, state capitol buildings, and on Capitol Hill to fight aggressively to suppress suffrage rights. We must associate the overlapping ideology that the Civil War Amendments (thirteen through fifteen) granted a people humanity, citizenship, and the ballot. Therefore, they are inextricably linked to freedom! We must seek a multilingual electoral process in the areas of registration and notices, forms, instructions, assistance, other materials, and information relating to the voting and ballots.
Women And The Judiciary
It is time for us to vomit up old worldviews and digest trans-ideological nonpartisanship and the rights of women. It is time to champion the liberation of individuals who do not worship where you do, live in your community, and share your vocation or education.
It is time to have representation of women in every position of human endeavor and stretch the bounds of our imagination. It is time to be brave and throw off the shackles of fear. It is beyond time for an African American woman to sit on the high court. It is time to look at her in the spirit of our ancestor, Mrs. Sojourner Truth in eloquent speech, “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”
America will be better because she will come with strong stature and moral ethics. She will be principled. She will likely outwork any man on the Supreme Court. She will not give retribution to society based on the historically widespread violence and terror suffered by people of color (because that is an unspoken disquietude and a true elephant). She will be able to fiercely endure misogynistic statements and threats. She will not weaponize her power and jurisprudence. She will decide from her constitution and The Constitution.
Therefore, be not afraid of her presence for she will be a present to the nation. Her presence will shatter glass ceilings for generations. Her presence will show little Black girls and Black boys what is possible, and they will see what they can be. Her presence will be the fulfillment of a promise and actualization from the soul of Poet Langston Hughes, “I, too, sing America.”
We must vocalize to our elected, appointed, and rising political officials to be louder in demanding that we stop callous indifference to human suffering and beat back cynicism. We must articulate that the fight for freedom was not only won by taking licks from fists, swinging of clubs, or hung from a noose. It was also won while singing, sitting, and soaking up the sounds of social gospel sermons. We must spotlight the anxiety that power is being relinquished and some of our brothers and sisters are recalcitrant. We must acknowledge that if the ballot box opens for many (our ailing mothers and fathers, grandparents, the indigent and hospitalized, the incarcerated and felons) in the form of absentee and mail-in ballots that an authoritative voice will be given to a body who have been overlooked for how long, too long. We must mature our powerful mandate to gain access to the rights and privileges to a free and open society. We must overstate our truths and indicate our unreasonable impatience with disenfranchisement. We must know without a shadow or doubt there is strength in the vote. We must say to one another there is scintillating beauty seeing us rise to places of prominence. We must express with conviction and mounting optimism that the youth of this country will deliver political victories and a Blue Wave. We must declare that divinity, spirituality, religion, and faith make us larger, freer, and more loving.
This African American History Month, take up the charge for change. Take up the charge to march in step to the drumbeat of Onward, Forward, Upward, and Outward progress. Take up the charge to follow the path of Black America’s shared mission and vision. Take up the charge to stretch out on the paved road to glory. Take up the charge and believe without fear and contradiction that every Black man, woman, and child’s life matters and they are equal in status, capability, and have promise in their eyes as all human beings. Take up the charge to not be fretful of the grandchildren of the former enslaved, for they (we) are living according to dictates of our own conscience and that of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream. Take Up The Charge For Change!
This work was inspired by Author James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Why We Can’t Wait.
If elected, Dr. Quintessa Hathaway will make history as the first person of color and African American woman to ever win a federally elected seat in the state of Arkansas.
- Primary Election Voter Registration Deadline: Monday, April 25, 2022
- Early Voting: May 9-23, 2022 (Monday-Friday 8AM-6PM And Saturday 10AM-4PM)
- Primary Election Day: Tuesday, May 24, 2022
- General Election Voter Registration Deadline: Tuesday, October 11, 2022
- Early Voting: October 24-November 7, 2022
- General Election Day: Tuesday, November 8, 2022
Source: Dr. Quintessa Hathaway