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Our February series: ColorOfChange history is Black history

This month the ColorofChange blog will feature some key events in contemporary Black history, almost all of which coincide with campaigns the organization has taken on. We’ll be offering you a catalogue of 21st century Black American history and showcasing the stories at the center of our work.

Each event we’ll highlight lifts up the power that you — our members — have flexed while shaping history for all Black Americans and our allies.This Black History Month we’re celebrating what our community has done to create a powerful online lobby that didn’t exist prior to the devastating hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast just over six years ago.

That’s right. It was more than six years ago when Kanye West gave his infamous monologue, spurring our team to respond with a powerful message. It may feel like ages ago, which is why it’s important to take these four weeks to reminisce on our heroes and our communities’ heroic actions. Ever since Dr. Carter G. Woodson organized the first “Negro History Week” in 1928, many have questioned whether we truly need a period of time devoted to recognizing African Americans’ accomplishments. The ColorOfChange staff believes that we must remember our roots and routes to this moment, especially given that some Americans are fixating on the “good ol’ days”. We’re not exactly sure when these good old days occurred, but the people who reference them seem to be talking about some time before the Civil Rights Movement.

Meanwhile, Tea Party members in Tennessee are rallying to “depict the lighter side of slavery” in Tennessee children’s schoolbooks. And in Tucson, AZ, the rhetoric of colorblindness and unity are being used to ban the teaching of certain books including, Critical Race TheoryRethinking Columbus, and Chicano! The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. (Keep in mind that Tucson is only 35 minutes from the Mexican border). The teaching of books by Mumia Abu-Jamal, Howard Zinn and Jonathan Kozol has also been banned in the district.

Since ColorOfChange was born in 2005, Black America has witnessed many major events that will be recognized as part of our history for generations to come. We’ve seen a devastating hurricane shed light on the conditions of so many vulnerable Black citizens. Now we’re enduring a recession that has hit Black Americans particularly hard. We’ve also celebrated the election of America’s first Black president, and we’re watching the impact of a budding movement that’s set out to change the economic discourse.

This November, we’ll cast our votes in another historic presidential election. Here at ColorOfChange, we’re grappling with what it means to have an African-American presidential incumbent. We’re wondering whether Republican candidates will continue to to use the race-baiting we’ve seen in the primaries during debates with President Obama. It all contributes to what we see as history in the making — a history driven by you, our members and allies. If you’re not already a member, please join us here.

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Rashad Robinson

Rashad Robinson

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