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.

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
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Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
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Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

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Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
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  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
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  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

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.