As the world celebrates the accomplishments and cultures of Black people the world over, our journey echoes the resistance of our free, civilized ancestors protesting the narrative that we were created to be enslaved; our people were involuntarily chained to one of the most horrific atrocities known to humanity. We have risen and battled through overwhelming challenges despite the deprivation of our natural born right to exist as free human beings.

This will not be a conversation about dates, inventions or firsts. This is a heart-to-heart about the Spirit of Black History, Resistance, the theme for Black History Month 2023. We cannot speak about resistance without considering the trauma and the challenge that is the platform for Black History superimposed with American History.

We are called to resist the trivialization of our presence and our experience. The narrative of who we are and what we can do, even in the 21st Century, is still challenged. We resist histories and legislation that keeps us frozen in suffrage, economic disadvantage and enslavement. Our history and people are a wonderful mosaic of dignity, creativity, brilliance, technological and scientific advancements, along with critical perspectives and outcomes essential to life.

The SPIRIT of resistance runs deep like the roots of a baobab tree. The spirit gives life to the context of our extraordinary chronicles throughout time: BC, AD and history materializing today. Orating and documenting the achievements of Black people in no form or fashion negates the account of others. Every human should have the right to create and narrate their own experiences from a free place, with a free mind, in safe and enriching environments. Resistance is a shared assignment in recognition and support of healing, aligned with ensuring non-Black people (allies and those who do not understand the response) recognize and admit the trauma that is a component of descendants of the recorded 404-year arrival of the first enslaved Africans.

Our accomplishments go hand in hand with the additional barriers of entry assigned to us. However, achievements and Black History pre-date the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Emancipation, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement. Black History is ancient and triumphant. Black History manifests soul strategy and momentum unfolding over a lifetime.

This complex spirit and history constantly resist overturning protections for equitable life, balanced education, secure and affordable housing, gainful and dignified employment, civil rights, women’s rights, human rights, respect, and freedom. This cultivation of issues and awareness inside and outside our community will continue to identify and historicize Black people, places, inventions, and events.

As you process this conversation, please consider the succinct words penned by Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Associate Professor of Communication and African and African American Studies at Loyola University, radio host of Today with Dr. Kaye, and Opinion Editorial Columnist with the Afro newspaper.  She affirms, “The struggle and desire to be free to write our own history, and to pursue our destiny have long been apart of (that) experience, and despite laws designed to restrict rights and freedoms, it has remained a central part of the story.”

I wish you well! I wish you peace!

– Roz Cochran