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DignityUSA Celebrates Black History Month

Black History Month is celebrated each year throughout the month of February. The iconic color combination of red, black, and green dates back to the early 1920s, when the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), led by Marcus Garvey, adopted a flag as a symbol of political maturity to represent the people of the African Diaspora and to stand for Black freedom.

Red represents blood, both shed and shared by those who fought/fight for liberation. Black is meant to represent the people of Africa, who fought and continue to fight for their equality. Finally, green represents the vegetation, wealth, and natural fertility of Africa.

As we continue through February and onward, DignityUSA believes that Black history and the contributions of Black people should be celebrated all year - Black history is America’s history. Our nation’s history, particularly as we learn it in school, is often whitewashed and diversity is erased from its pages - both literally and figuratively. The voices, actions, contributions, and accomplishments of Black people should always be uplifted.

February is also a time we can examine the ways in which our own church figures into Black history, in the US and beyond. As slaveholders, as prominent participants in white supremacist organizations, as too often silent witnesses to atrocity, Catholic individuals and institutions contributed to the oppression, impoverishment, and violence experienced by Black people. There have also been prominent advocates for equality and leaders of civil rights efforts in our Church. We need a much broader understanding of the ways we have collaborated in and resisted oppression, and a deeper commitment to dismantling systemic racism.

The LGBTQI justice movement also has work to do to ensure that we are more equitable. From the erasure of Black advocates’ stories to prioritizing goals that benefited white middle and upper class people, our history is marked by racism. This month, let us learn more about the Black leaders in our movement and the needs of Black LGBTQI people, and commit to addressing those needs with the same vigor that has fueled so much progress over recent decades.

For those who do not identify as Black or African-American, in order to be true allies and advocates speak up for injustices, support Black organizations, nonprofits, and Black-owned businesses, and recognize where your own privilege stands in the way of lifting up Black voices and experiences.

In the coming weeks, DignityUSA will release various lists of resources for those committed to combatting racism as a systemic problem, rather than as specific words or actions. Our recently formed People of Color caucus and Antiracism resource group will hold their first meetings and establish their roles in ensuring DignityUSA as a safe space for ALL; and educational seminars will be planned and shared with our community.

We encourage all to research the ways in which you can support Black and African-American communities. DignityUSA is committed to educating ourselves and others so that we may serve as an ally wherever possible. May this Black History Month bring us farther along that long walk to freedom and justice for all!

Learn more about the DignityUSA People of Color Caucus and Antiracism Resource Group and check out our online antiracism resources.