Today marks the first day of Black History Month and this is the time of the year that the world sits up and recognizes the contributions our foremothers and fathers have made to the world.

Although Black history shouldn’t be something merely relegated to the month of February, but rather studied and heralded as apart of American and world history throughout the year, we would be remiss if we didn’t take some time to pay homage to a few of the pioneers who have paved the way for us.

While most have heard of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks, many more individuals have given their lives so that we could be here in this moment, free to do and live as we please. Free to love, laugh, debate, and create the lives we choose.

Even though we’ve come a long way since being forced to crowd into ships and suffer through the horrors of slavery, this country is by no means perfect. People of color still deal with racism and a system that continues to support the status quo. We are still far more likely to be poor, undereducated, and be victims of crime and disease than our white counterparts. And no matter how much we succeed, even to the highest office in the land, we are still often times viewed suspiciously.

Despite the challenges, however, Black people have thrived…in spite of all of the things that have attempted to hold us down and break our spirits. We stay beating the odds. And our spirit, our unbreakable spirit is due to those who paved the way and taught us how to strive.

So this is a praise song for our foremothers who fought, died, birthed babies, supported men, worked tirelessly, raised a nation, and taught us how to dream.

Thank you Dr. Maya Angelou, Mae Jamison, Ida B. Wells, Zora Neal Hurston, Shirley Chisholm, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Lorraine Hansberry, Mary McLeoud Bethune, Dorothy Height, Septima Poinsette Clark, Vivian Malone Jones, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, bell hooks and the countless women who have kicked down doors and shattered the glass ceiling for us all.

Without your tireless efforts we would not be here on the cusp of possibilities, able to make our own world in our own way. We stand on your examples, your life’s work, and your shoulders. May we make you proud.

Check out Jessica Care Moore’s poem, “Black Statue of Liberty,” and shout of some of the women who have inspired you!

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