In 1926, Dr. Carter G. Woodson started National Negro History Week to educate the American people about African-Americans’ cultural backgrounds and notable achievements. This action led to what we currently celebrate as Black History Month.
In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since then, every American president has designated February as Black History Month.
The history of the African-American experience in the United States is deeply intertwined with our church experience. To us, the church was much more than a structure with four walls and a roof. It was our education, our inspiration, our socialization, our justice system, our volunteerism, our family, our refuge, our hospital and our leadership. It became a symbol of hope for a better life.
As we enter into this month, let us celebrate the fact that we are truly blessed. African Americans have a proud history, but throughout our history there has always been a struggle. Psalms 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”
The church took scriptures like this and brought a feeling of confidence to a group of people who were set up for failure. In church I learned that trouble doesn’t last forever; I learned that something greater is inside me; and I learned that I am more than a conqueror. It was through the church that I also learned who I am and who I could become through Christ Jesus.
So, this February, I will continue to go to church. I encourage you to find a Bible-based church to attend. Not a black church or a white church, but a church that teaches the word of God. Though this month has been set aside for black history, let us continue to unite and write our own history. Allow the combined strength of a church family to help you make it through your personal struggle.
Get in church. Get involved. Get God!
Hayes is president of the United Ministerial Alliance and pastor of New Day Outreach Ministry.