Every February, we are kindly reminded of the contributions of black Americans in the past.
We reflect on the bravery and courage of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, who through the process of abolition liberated many and validated the cause of freedom.
We embrace the legacy of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, who braved the hostility of racism and bigotry to pave the way for many to access the American Dream through their own dreams of equality and justice.
Black history is rich with many such stories of heroism, but it is far more than a storybook and a history lesson from which we can draw inspiration. It is modern day life as well. Black history is the life that we are currently living.
Black history is being made every day!
I am convinced, now more than ever, that a legacy isn’t formed when one takes up a final residence in the grave and others begin to articulate how they lived their lives. Likewise, a legacy isn’t created on an epitaph or a monument with glorious quotes.
A legacy is created from what we do in the present to preserve the future.
The current generation of black Americans is now living its legacy. It is up to us on how this legacy is presented.
Therefore, I encourage black Americans to live as a victor. When we take opportunities that are advantageous for us to become empowered, we enhance our history.
I am also adamant that we can have access to a good quality education. We can possess and nurture the American entrepreneurial spirit and become successful and produce thriving families that contribute to a thriving community.
Our success in life should not be contingent on how big a role government promises to play in our lives. Instead, it should be dependent upon morals, faith, our own values, hard work and the determination to rise from the ashes of low-living to partake of the promises given to us by our Creator.
We must speak to the mountains of despair that exist within our communities and command them to be removed. We must exchange prison cells that occupy too many black men for study halls, college classrooms and corporate offices. We must substitute the lack of a father figure in too many black homes for a two-parent unit that helps provide mobility and strength in a family.
Most important, we must acknowledge that Almighty God is the source of our provisions and strength, and that He enables us to make choices that will have a great impact in our families, communities and nation.
Black history is only vital if we preserve it.
We can preserve black history by deciding to free ourselves from all chains of social or economic bondage that keep us in a low state of mind.
The future lies within our hands. Those that went before us should be honored and remembered, but the responsibility is now up to us.
We are black history.
Demetrius Minor is a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network and youth minister. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org.