February is the shortest month of the year with 28 days. The other 11 months have 30 and 31 days yet none share the action-packed contribution as February. This is the month coined as African-American History month by Carter G Woodson in 1926. The gifts that he gave us are so rich the occasion went from one week to the whole month. He was a historian, author, journalist and founder of the Association for the Study of African Life and History. Today, Woodson is known as the father of Black history.
History is the foundational path that guides us from the past into the present with hope and expectations. It is the road of those fighting spirits that we may be able to walk, work and worship and not get weary. The one thing that ushers us in our daily walk is knowledge for, as Woodson said, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
Out of the dust comes concrete opportunity. Woodson was the son of a slave, and minister and writer Richard Allen was a slave, but they did not allow their situation to handicap their mind, will and determination from sharing their gifts to all humankind.
Allen, even in human bondage, saw the light of day was larger and brighter than the darkest chain that held him bound. He worked and bought his freedom and that of his family. He wanted not only to be free from the physical chains but psychological freedom as well. His primary goal was to share his gifts to the world — religious freedom and a secular educational opportunity. He founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a place of freedom and dignity and an educational institution to teach and train a people who had no schools to attend but now have no excuse for not learning. Allen later became a bishop, avid preacher and a businessman.
We celebrate this founder for sharing his gifts with us and God for his birthday, Feb. 14, throughout African Methodism with honor and respect.
Whereas there are countless others who came together and made the map of life clearer that “no man is an island unto himself” so we march with those who preceded us in this journey because “Our Lives Matter.”
The Rev. Evelyn Johnson