Monday, February 4, 2008

Black History Month: Celebrating the Knowledge Self and Others

May the Peace and Blessings of God be Upon You,

The Holy Qur’an, in Surah 49:13, states, “ O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other not that ye may despise each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things.”

A beautifully simple passage, expressing the essence of what Black History Month has come to mean to me and also fitting for the theme of Black History Month 2008, Carter G. Woodson and the Origins of Multiculturalism.

Contrary to the notions of Colonialism and Imperialism, we were created that we may know one another, not enslave or exploit one another. Thankfully the chapter on colonialism in world history has ended and that of imperialism is waning, however still we have yet to experience a world that fully embraces diversity.

As we begin 2008 and do our part shape the future we want to see, recognizing and learning about Carter G. Woodson and the contributions he has made to the development of multiculturalism seems as good a start as any.

Carter G. Woodson, the founder of The Association for the study of African American Life and History ( initiated the celebration of Black History Month in 1976 as an extension to the celebration of Negro History Week which he had established in 1926 as a means of documenting and researching the contributions of African Americans to American society. Upon attending Harvard University, one of the top universities in the United States, he saw first hand the lack of knowledge presented about African Americans and thus went about the task of rectifying the situation.

Having been born in 1976, I’ve personally benefited first hand from having grown up in an era of black consciousness. Although I knew about slavery, I also knew about Harriet Tubman. Although I knew about segregation, I also know about Rosa Parks and this dual knowing, understanding that there was oppression and fighters against oppression has molded me in ways that I have come to find invaluable. I like to think of it as having giving me the ability to be hopeful and optimistic in the face of adversity.

And as a result of his efforts, we’ve seen many other ethnic groups follow his example with the implementation of American Indian Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

We can be the change we want to see in the world and we can start by knowing ourselves and being receptive to knowing others.

May we start the work of knowing each other and may our lives be blessed with peace.

Life Reminders

Psalm 145:8-9 The Lord is Gracious and Merciful
The Lord is Gracious and Merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and His Compassion is over all that He has made.

Matthew 11:28 Gentleness and Humility
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Surah 33:21 Beautiful Pattern of Conduct
Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.

Sahih Muslim, Book Unknown: Changing an Evil Action
“Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest of faith.”

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