It’s that time of year when the powerful speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fill the airwaves and events in his honor are plentiful as precursors leading into Black History Month.
During this time we reflect on the “past” accomplishments of African Americans and their contributions to society as a whole. This annual reflection is vital and much needed. However, to reflect on the past accomplishments of others and not to build on them is merely just that — a reflection.
As a community we can reflect upon the Dr. King “I Have A Dream” speech, however, to only see it as just a speech and not as a rallying cry for unification it will then only serve a purpose as just a dream. If we as African Americans are honest with ourselves, our overall engagement of Black History Month has become bland. Therefore we must ask ourselves these questions: What are we doing to contribute to our history? What has our local African American leaders and organizations done lately or is doing to etch a mark in history?
Our mark in history should be much more than partaking in an annual breakfast. While we fill ourselves with a commemorative breakfast, legislation is being filled with discriminatory proposals, acts, statutes and ordinances. While we rest upon a dream, this present presidential administration and its underlings are wide awake with a focus on continuing divisive policies for another four years. All we offer is a past speech with no present voice of our own. If our African American community has no representation and no voice, then we will continue to become an invisible people with not anything to celebrate but past speeches and a distant dream.
Black History Month should be more than a reflection of the past but also a conviction of the present for each and every one of us to do our part to make our community a productive community and a much better place to live. We must do our part in history by getting involved in our local political arenas, our school systems, our community affairs, continuously and not just when the cameras are rolling.
So we must ask ourselves what history will we leave? What reflection will our children and grandchildren see? Will they see the reflection of a productive people or will they see that we are in dire need of a makeover?
Mr. Hobson is a Riverhead native currently living in Virginia.