Religious communities should honor Black history

by Samantha Festin , Contributor

Christians of all backgrounds should observe Black History Month as a remembrance of good faith, unity, strength and perseverance.

Powerful leaders such as Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman all shared common characteristics. These civil rights activists were heroes who believed in equity, justice, peace and freedom. These brave souls used effective ideas and methods to fight against racial discrimination and slavery. 

King Jr. presented his “I Have a Dream” speech to address segregation, racism and inequality. He encouraged peaceful protests to stand up for social justice. Parks joined King Jr. in the Montgomery bus boycott that stood against racial segregation in buses. After the boycott ended, King Jr. helped develop the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that operated to end segregation in the Southern states. 

Douglass believed in Christian ethics and leading by example. In his autobiography, “Narrative of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” he expressed his stance against hypocrisy. 

“I love the pure, peaceable and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds and the grossest of all libels,” he wrote. 

Douglass concluded that Christianity should involve moral behavior, reasonable acts and hearts that reflect empathy for others.

Tubman escaped slavery and risked her life to lead others to freedom. She was an abolitionist who guided enslaved people to freedom through the Underground Railroad. She put her faith over fear as she attributed her achievements to God. 

“It wasn’t me, it was the Lord! I always told him, ‘I trust you. I don’t know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,’ and he always did. I prayed to God to make me strong and able to fight, and that’s what I’ve always prayed for ever since,” Tubman said. 

Douglass commended Tubman for her humility and commitment. He wrote her a letter in 1868 that honored her fearlessness.

“I have had the applause of the crowd and the satisfaction that comes from being approved by the multitude, while the most that you have done has been witnessed by a few trembling, scarred and foot-sore bondmen and women, whom you have led out of the house of bondage, and whose heartfelt ‘God bless you’ has been your only reward,” Douglass wrote.

Genesis 1:26-27 refers to God creating humankind in his own image and likeness. The selfless acts of these civil rights leaders sparked progression and righteousness in the world. Christian values include service, courage, care and compassion. Spreading even just small acts of kindness can create a ripple effect and inspire others to do the same. 

Christians and people with different religions or beliefs can honor Black History Month by watching videos, listening to stories, sharing experiences and attending commencements that represent African American heroes of faith, inviting others to observe with them and reading Scriptures from the Bible. 

Christians should celebrate this observance to commemorate hard work, determination and successful historical events impacted by those who showed the love of God through the hope and devotion they had for equal rights, opportunities and moral standards. 

Samantha Festin is a senior studying journalism.