Black History Minutes.
At the last Jazz Vespers I realized that jazz music illustrates the valuable role of Black History Month. As you may know, all the instruments in a jazz band play together during a song, but often there are moments when all of the instruments except one dial back. In those moments, one of the instruments gets to solo. Their voice gets to shine. Their interpretation gets full voice. I think that’s what Black History Month is for me.
Of course, we should be listening to Black American voices all year long because they, like all the rest, contribute to the music that is the United States. However, during the month of February the other voices dial back and the Black American voice gets to shine. Their unique voice gets full attention. I hope you’ll join me in that this month.
An acquaintance and colleague of mine shared something recently that adds another layer to this for me. She’s a bi-racial woman who would be seen as Black by most people. She was writing about the divide that we experience in America and said that what hurts her most about her White family is not the disagreement over issues, but their basic lack of knowledge when it comes to history. They just don’t know the dates, facts, and figures about how Black people were treated. They didn’t seem to care to know. It is a pain she carries with her.
I don’t want the Black members of the congregation to carry the same pain with them. So let’s dial back on our favorite news channels, put down our newspapers or novels of choice, and save our favorite podcasts or blogs for another day. Find a Black American author, poet, or social commentator and give full attention to their voice. Let’s show that we care enough to know. Here’s one way to go about that:
There are 40,320 minutes in Black History Month. I’m inviting you to take 120 of those and watch this video and write down some answers these three questions:
What is important to Mr. Tisby?
What does Mr. Tisby what you to understand?
What do you feel compelled to do as a next step?
Next I’m inviting you to spend another 60 minutes or so sharing your answers with me. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee, glass of beer, or cup of fresh-squeezed juice as an incentive. Thank you for doing this.