“We must learn that passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
I was excited when asked to contribute a piece in celebration and reflection of African American History Month. I spent some time thinking through who or what contribution to write about in this piece, which figure or person, would be the focus of this commentary as an appropriate symbol and embodiment of all things beautifully African-American.
However, I was led away from the focus being on a person, but about an ideal. A principle that runs a thread through the history of black people in America, no matter what age or generation we recognize; and that ideal is RESISTANCE.
To be sure, black Americans have contributed to the advancement and development of this nation and if you or your children are unfamiliar with the level of contribution check out this link and share: history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-facts.
The historical, social and political impact the Resistance of black people in America is, in my thoughts, our greatest contribution to the American story.
From Nat Turner, Sojourner Truth to modern day #BlackLivesMatter, black resistance movements fighting against white supremacy (which is bad for all people, including white America); have been vital to helping all realize the American Dream; notwithstanding, we still have more work to do!
African American history is Resistance! Resistance to white supremacy, that manifests not just in protest and policy, but also through art, music, invention, science, technology, mathematics, beauty, economics, politics and so much more.
Now, in the midst of this largely questionable White House administration – Resistance will be the ONLY WAY! However, it is a way that we are familiar with; it is a way, we know all too well, because we have been here before. It is a way that we have refined in process overtime; and keep taking to another level.
The resistance of Black America is a contribution I am most proud to celebrate throughout my lifetime, not just in the month of February; and it is the reason I stand with our Native American, Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ, immigrant and Mexican brothers and sisters; and all marginalized people. If we do not, the report will be “First they came for the Muslims & Immigrants…then…”
The Rev. Dr. Najuma Smith-Pollard, also known as Pastor Ju, is the founder of Word of Encouragement Community Church in Los Angeles. She also serves as program manager for the USC Cecil L. Murray Center for Civic and Community Engagement.