SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As we enter the first full week of February, we once again begin the month set aside by our nation to focus on Black History and the events and cultural milestones that got us where we are today.
Believe it or not, there are far too many people out there who question devoting February to celebrating the African American community and its accomplishments. To those who wonder why we do this, I urge you to look no further than the Virginia Governor’s Mansion.
Over the weekend, Democratic Governor Ralph Northam found himself embroiled in a racially-charged controversy. A medical school yearbook of his showed a picture on his page of two men, one seemingly in black face, the other wearing a KKK robe and hood. At first, the governor apologized for the photo, but then a day later, he recanted, saying he doesn’t believe he’s one of the two men in the picture, though he did admit that around the same time that photo was taken, he did darken his face for a Michael Jackson costume.
Now keep in mind, these pictures weren’t taken in 50’s or early 60’s when these actions, while still morally-reprehensible, were widely socially acceptable. No, these photos were taken in the mid to late 80’s, a far more informed time for our country.
Consider This: The defiance shown by Governor Northam in refusing to resign, a man who is suppose to represent and protect the more than 1.5 million African American Virginians, is exactly why we must continue to learn from our history, particularly when it comes to our attitudes and beliefs about the African American community.
While we’ve certainly made progress, there’s clearly still a long way to go, and maybe one month a year just isn’t enough to get us where we need to be.