Black History Month begins today. The official 2020 Black History Month theme is “African Americans and the Vote.” 2020 is an important election year, and a landmark year for voting rights. This year is the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment and the culmination of the women’s suffrage movement. The year 2020 also marks the 150th anniversary of the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) and the right of African American men to vote after the Civil War. African American suffragists made important contributions to the broader women’s movement and also to the 20th-century voting rights movement. The fight for voting rights continues today. The theme emphasizes the ongoing struggle on the part of both African American men and women for the right to vote. We must remember the past and vow never to return to those times.
The current administration is has headed down a racist and nationalist path. This Black History Month, I call on all people of goodwill and character to take a stand. Do not stand-by while the Republicans dismantle our democracy and our human rights. Our current President and all his henchmen are working hard to roll-back the progress we have made over the past 150 years. Please vote, volunteer, phone bank, donate and make sure your American friends and family are registered to vote and vote.
Since 2010, 25 states have enacted new voting restrictions, including strict photo ID requirements, early voting cutbacks, and registration restrictions. At least 17 million voters were purged from voter rolls nationwide between 2016 and 2018, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice. The past decade has seen a renewed war on the right to vote. The struggle to ensure that African Americans can fully participate in American democracy continues. Those of us who can vote must vote. Please do not let anyone or anything stop you from voting. If voting weren't important, so many groups wouldn't try to stop people from voting.
Americans residing in the United States can go to https://iwillvote.com/ to register to vote or verify that you are registered to vote, and your information is up-to-date. Americans Abroad can register to vote and request a ballot for the 2020 elections at https://www.votefromabroad.org/. The sooner you do it, the better. This year everyone needs to vote. We must elect as many Democrats as possible at all levels of government.
The United States belongs to all the people who worked, involuntarily or voluntarily, to build it. Our unofficial theme is “This Land is Your Land" because African Americans have and continue to contribute to America and the world. Both themes work well together. African Americans built the United States with their lives and their work, and we receive very little credit for our contributions.
We have several events planned for the month. Please check our events page for more information.
Hopefully, at the end of the month, you will be more enlightened about the contributions African Americans have made in the United States and around the world, than when the month began.
What can you do to fighting racism and dismantle prejudices?
- Recognize how you may benefit from racial privilege, and then use your privilege to help dismantle systemic racism.
- Recognize the experiences of Black people by listening to us and engaging in conversations about race and reading literature that focuses on Black narratives, such a W.E.B. Du Bois’ Striving of the Negro People, The Autobiography of Malcom X, or any of the books on our book lists.
- Instead of thinking about Black people as one homogenous group, think of us as individuals — which we are.
- Call out racist “jokes” and statements, and challenge other people in your life to think critically about racism. Also, remove words like “colorblind” and “post-racial” from your vocabulary because it actually perpetuates racism.
- Expose yourself to different spaces in which you have the opportunity to interact with people of different races, whether that’s attending multicultural events or frequenting a Black-owned business.
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