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Op-Ed: Black History Month is over. But the fight for justice isn’t.

Op-Ed: Black History Month is over. But the fight for justice isn’t.

Civil rights activist Angela Davis speaks at a street rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, 4th July 1974. (Bettmann/Getty Images)

By Tia-Alanna Joyner

March 4, 2024

Black History Month is just one month a year. But a NC activist writes that the fight for social justice and equality continues every day.

The end of Black History Month marks a time of reflection. It’s a time when we as a nation lean into acknowledging Black figures in history, and celebrating Black joy, and achievements. Nevertheless, just as quickly as the month seems to go by, corporations and people shift their focus as soon as the month is over.

However, for many across the country, and in North Carolina, the work did not stop last week. The work continues, day to day, month to month, year by year. For many, the hope of inclusion and equity, stemming from generations before us, inspires and motivates them to still dream.

Read More: 4 Black NC icons who deserve their own movie

Communities across our state are filled with visionary leaders who move us forward to dreaming of a North Carolina that is inclusive and welcoming to all.

There are activists like Cedric Harrison, the founder of both Support the Port and wilmingtoNColor, who has dedicated his professional career to supporting and creating opportunities for economic growth and advancement for African Americans in the Wilmington area.

Among local elected officials, we have Preston Blakely, who became the youngest mayor at 27 years old in North Carolina in 2021. Melissa Elliott, Dr. Linda Jordon, and Barbara Foushee, are making history as the first Black female mayors of their respective North Carolina towns.

Environmentalists, like Savonala “Savi” Horne, provide legal support and assist financially distressed Black and Brown landowners, farmers, and ranchers.

In Warren County, there are many residents who demand a seat at the table, as marginalized communities are underserved and overburdened by pollution.

Image activists like Alvin C. Jacobs Jr., who visually documents social justice movements, from Baltimore to Ferguson to New York to Charlotte. Jaki Shelton Green, who is the first African American and third woman to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate, uses poetry to shed an unwavering light on the hardships of being Black in America.

Black Maternal Health providers like Ste’Keira Shepperson, Kara Kimble, Karen Darlington Phelps, Venus Standard, and many others, are providing the much-needed support, education, and awareness to their communities, especially pregnant individuals.

Community leaders, like Reverend Nelson Johnson and Mrs. Joyce Johnson, works with Greensboro’s marginalized communities to focus attention on their concerns and bring power through Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy of racial and economic justice, and beloved community.

Let us not forget Civil Rights pioneers like Dorothy Counts-Scoggins, who was one of four Black students that integrated Charlotte’s public schools in 1957, and continues to advocate for education equity in Charlotte.

For these individuals, and numerous unsung heroes from our communities, the fight for change never ended, and the dreams have never stopped.

This baton was just passed on to the next generation of thinkers and doers.

Our dreams have withstood egregious policies, inequalities, and circumstances that could instill hopelessness.

The latest example of certain politicians attempting to slow down our progress is through stalling landmark legislation such as the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act and Justice for Black Farmers Act of 2023.

On the statewide level, politicians are denying our students the freedom to learn from poets like Maya Angelou, activists like Ella Baker, and visionaries like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and other prominent figures.

Despite these obstacles, we must be reminded of the dreamers before us, who overcame contrived defeats, and obstructionists through their voices and their votes.

The resilience and perseverance of our ancestors, neighbors, activists, and every day North Carolinians, should be a testament to our ability to push for a better future, regardless of who or what is in our way.

North Carolinians have not stopped dreaming. And will not stop dreaming.

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CATEGORIES: LOCAL CULTURE
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