The obvious lynching of Alfred Wright, 28, and subsequent cover-up by the local authorities are evidence that Black History Month is necessary as we continue in our efforts to advance social change and transform race relations. The young husband and father of three sons was minding his business when he was kidnapped, murdered and found lifeless, 18 days later, in the woods in Sabine County, Tex. in November 2013.
In this “post-racial society” we live in and in the wake of the lynchings of Wright, Trayvon Martin, Kendrick Johnson and Jordan Davis, we realize everyday that we are not really that far removed from that fateful day in 1998, June 7 to be exact, when James Byrd Jr. was offered a ride home by three white men. What Byrd didn’t know at the time, it would be a ride to hell and back.
That was more than 15 years ago, Bill Clinton was President of the United States and then state senator Barack Obama was serving the second year of his first term representing the 13th District in the Illinois Senate. Black History Month, which started off as Negro History Week, was the brainchild of Dr. Carter G. Woodson who strongly believed black people deserved a special time to be celebrate the countless black men and women who were instrumental in the advancement of human civilization and an opportunity to promote our intellectual prowess and achievements. It could be inferred that Woodson and his cohorts believed highlighting our achievement and finding common ground would be equalizers, or so they thought. There’s no really tangible way to counter bigotry, hate and evil. But continuing to educate, even our own community, during Black History Month and year round as fast-food retailer McDonald’s suggests with its 365Black initiative – which celebrates black history and culture 365 days a year – is imperative. We must stay committed to this level of consciousness and we must find to end hate crimes.