Never Forget: Why Black History Month Remains Important

by Lawrence Ware

Celebrate-Black-History-Mon.jpgLyndon B. Johnson enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in July of that year. This legislation prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It has been 50 years since this act became law, and racial progress is undeniable.

Overt acts of racism are now met with moral indignation and social alienation. Those who fought for civil rights are considered modern-day saints, and those who actively opposed racial progress are viewed as ignorant at best. Considering how much lip service is given to the notion of a post-racial America, you would think we’ve gotten this race all figured out.

You would be wrong. Dead wrong.

Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Renisha McBride [three unarmed young black people killed by whites—Editor] are but reminders of how much work remains to be done. They show us that stereotypes are not only lamentable—they are deadly.

Further, when juxtaposed with cases like Marissa Alexander (a black, female victim of domestic abuse who was sentenced to 20 years for firing a gunshot into the ceiling of her home while her abuser threatened her), they also serve to show us how race still matters in the American Justice system.

These cases show us why Black History Month remains so important.

As we fight for important causes like economic justice and gender equality, we must never forget that one of America’s oldest sins still lingers: the social sin of racism.

Black History Month is an important reminder about how far the United States  have come, and how far we have yet to go.

Progressive communities have a tendency to sweep racial injustice under the rug as other “in vogue” topics take precedence. Things like LGBTQ issues will take center stage, or student debt will be the topic of the year. All the while, racism festers beneath the surface until acts of violence place it back in the news.

Martin Luther King once wisely wrote: “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” King wisely discerned that many fail to see that injustices suffered by one group affect all groups. Therefore, in ignoring any injustice, one fails to see that “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

Translation: We are all in this together.

Black History Month reminds us that while we should work on a multiplicity of important issues, the shadow of racism follows us still—lest we should ever forget.

 

Lawrence_Ware-2.jpg Lawrence Ware is a Professor of Philosophy at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He is a frequent contributor to the Democratic Left magazine and co-editor of the forthcoming progressive publication RS: The Religious Left. He has been a commentator on race for the Huffington Post Live and NPR’s Talk of the Nation. He has taught and lectured across the country on issues ranging from race to economic policy.

 

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership.

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

May 25, 2017
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Join DSA's Queer Socialists Working Group to discuss possible activities for the group and its proposed structure. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
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If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
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Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
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Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
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Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

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Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
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Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
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Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.