Saturday, February 5, 2011

Perspectives From the Field: 3 Reasons It's Important To Celebrate Black History With Youth

1) Black History is American history. African Americans have played an integral part in the development of the U.S. from the very beginning. Our ancestors have been involved in every major historical moment of America from the Revolution through today. We have contributed to politics, arts, invention and innovation, science, international affairs, business, the U.S. Armed Forces, and every other industry. The U.S. would look very different today without the presence of African Americans. Every American can be proud of all the gifts African Americans have given to this country as we have helped to make it become the America we know and love.

2) Black History can help to shape the faith identity of all youth: African American and otherwise. The faith that African Americans have demonstrated in God throughout our fight for freedom, justice, and equality in this nation serves a great example for Christians everywhere. Our people could not have made it this far without God. And in every struggle, African Americans have called upon God to be our protector, provider, sustainer, and most of all our liberator. The story of God's work to free African Americans from unjust and racist legal and social practices in the U.S. is an inspiring one that can remind all Christians of God's amazing love and power.

3) Black history is Church history: There is much to be said about the contributions of African Americans in the growth and development of the Church, particularly in the U.S. We have several historically black denominations in the U.S.: African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, National Baptist Convention, USA, National Baptist of America, Inc., Progressive Baptist Convention, National Missionary Baptist Convention, and the Church of God In Christ. Reviewing the history and development of these Churches and their contribution to American life and history is astounding and can greatly enrich our work with youth. In this way, youth can more clearly see how African Americans have helped to build the Church in the U.S. and abroad.

For these reasons and many more, it is very important that youth workers make observing Black history month a priority. Black history connects with who we (adults and youth) are as Christians, Americans, and Church leaders. This is a key awareness for workers as we work to develop the youth who will lead the Church tomorrow. To embrace Black history, is to embrace not only our identity but to also expand our understanding of who God is and how God has acted in the lives of his beloved. I encourage everyone to celebrate Black history. It is not only a Black story, but it is a a human story that can inspire and teach us all in meaningful ways.

Arionne Williams
Minister to Youth and Families
Metropolitan AMEZ, Kansas City, MO
Chair youTheology Advisory Board
Loving God, Loving Neighbor

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