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We R 1: Black History Month

“We R 1” – Black History Month

Pastor Ray Bady’s chosen theme for the VFam this year, “We R 1,” coincides uniquely with February’s annual Black History Month! Historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History Month, birthed his vision to edify American History by including the neglected, omitted, denied, excluded, and forgotten parts inherent to America’s storied past. Black History has been native to America’s beginning, and Dr. Woodson sought to accomplish this vision by setting aside a time to collectively celebrate with ourselves and others, our proud existence. He proclaimed, in essence, that Black History is in fact American History and that “We R 1!”

Woodson’s plan was to infuse our excluded truths into the curriculum of our colleges, high schools, and elementary schools alike. The current-day push to remove Black History Advance Placement (AP) courses from Florida high schools, reinforces the need to be diligent about maintaining and highlighting our history. These acts threaten to whitewash our history from American History.

Rev. Al Sharpton’s recent march on Florida’s capital city, Tallahassee, was to protest Governor Ron DeSantis’ disingenuous motives to remove our presence in history because it made “white people “uneasy!” Yet, the workings of Sharpton’s National Action Network to confront the wiles of Florida’s Governor only goes to show the power of “We R 1!”

From 1926 (birth of Black History Week) to the present, Black History Month has continued to grow and go, akin to the passage of scripture found in Ephesians 4:3, “By endeavoring to keep unity of Spirit in the bond of Peace.”

We, the body of Black Americans, have collectively and collaboratively maintained the knowledge, contributions, and truths of our history in this American land with one focus; to liberate our children and our children’s children. So that they can live “off their knees,” except to pray! Dr. Woodson wanted the “We” of us to teach the tenets of our deep history to our children. This would embolden them to strive throughout their lives toward their mark in history, giving them the realization that they are truly Americans, not merely tethered to this land of ours.

In teaching our kids, we are to fashion our teachings as suggested in Deuteronomy 6:9, earmarking our history on the gates and posts of our homes. We need to put before our children the greatness that covers them. Our homes must reflect our history in education, arts, sports, and historical Black media of a positive-kind, for a future-focused model. This should be done incessantly from the cradle to the grave. Our children must see themselves as part of the fabric of America. We are to do this for each one of them because, “We R 1.”

Our history is replete with acts of oneness of mind and spirit that have reflected our theme, “We R 1.” I offer up the Black history moment regarding Toussaint L’Ouverture. He was a Haitian general and a prominent leader of the Haitian Revolution. Historians say that “during his life, L’Ouverture fought against the French, then for them, and finally against France again for the cause of Haitian Independence.” His military achievements in the Haitian Revolution were significant to the French government’s abolishment of slavery in St. Dominique (current day Haiti) on February 4, 1794; and his defeat of France was a major reason the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase from France. L’Ouverture’s appeal to those who would fight with him was, “Brothers, I fight for St. Dominique because I want equality and liberty to reign. Unite with me and fight with us for this same cause!” Essentially he was saying, “We R 1!”

It is written “can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) American History is being deceitful to itself if Black History be purged from its annals. Our oneness in spirit and truth about our past must prevail less we split the proverbial child (1 King 3: 16-28).

As a congregation, we must be united in mind, heart, and spirit with Pastor Ray as he follows the LORD!!! Let us renew our minds, shrink-wrap our focus, and grow and go in the spirit, for…“We R 1!!!”

Deacon Leotis D. Swopes



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