Black History Month means different things to different people.
As a Nation we have a month of recognition and silence for the mighty men and women of color who paved the way for all of us. We recognize them for their hard work, tears, and for those who died fighting for equality for people of color. I am proud to be a man of color born in America.
As we take time to celebrate this notable occasion, I would like to share what Black History Month means to me. For me, Black History Month is a time of reflection, rejoicing, and recommitting to reach the next generation.
Black History Month is a Time of Reflection
Black History Month is a time to think about what it means to be an African American. We stand on the shoulders of giants who sacrificed to pave the way for a better tomorrow. It is a time to reflect back on the activists and organizers of the past involved in the fight for racial equality. The direct action being utilized by pacifist groups, and the bravery shown in the face of extreme racially motivated violence. It allows me to think back on the progress that was made in a relatively short period of time but then lets me recognize how much more work there is to do. Not only is Black History Month a time of reflection, it is also a time of rejoicing.
Black History Month is a Time of Rejoicing
Every February we celebrate and thank those African-Americans who have gone before us for giving us hope, which, in my opinion is better than optimism. It is not always possible to stay optimistic during tough times. Optimism is based on evidence; there has to be some reason why you believe things are going to be better. Sometimes there is not a whole lot to be optimistic about, and that is where hope comes in.
Hope, on the other hand is quite different than optimism. Contrary to the popular saying, “Hope is not a strategy,” I believe hope is a strategy. Hope is a confident expectation regarding the unseen and future (Hebrews 11:1-2; Colossians 1:27). Our ancestors held on to hope when facts, circumstances, and actions of others said otherwise. They had no evidence and no reason to believe things would get better, so they held desperately to hope.
The Reverend Clarence E. Stowers, Jr. was born on December 2, 1966 to Dr. Clarence (deceased) and Margaret Stowers, Sr. in Evanston, Illinois. He began his spiritual pilgrimage at Mars Hill under the leadership of Dr. Clarence E. Stowers, Sr. He accepted his call to preach the gospel in 1991 and was licensed and ordained at Mars Hill. In May of 1999, he succeeded his father as the pastor of the historic Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago. Mars Hill has experienced phenomenal ministry growth under his visionary pastoral leadership. Since his ministry there, more than 1500 souls have been saved and united with the church. In 2004, Mars Hill was awarded the Church Health Award from Rick Warren and Saddleback Church. Mars Hill is an innovative, multicultural, and soon-to-be multi-site church. With membership now exceeding 2200, it is one of the fastest growing churches in the Midwest. Pastor Stowers shares his life and ministry with his gifted wife, Lady Shauntai Stowers and three children, Myles, Joshua and Lauren. Follow Rev. Stowers’ blog, The Urban Pastor or check out Mars Hill’s website.