Since 1976 in the United States, the month of February has been designated nationally as a time to recognize the accomplishments and achievements of African-Americans and their contributions to the county’s history.
It’s also a time for reflection about the issue of race and how it has played a prominent role not only in our history as a nation, but also in the lives of contemporary Americans of all races, religions and national origin.
It’s often difficult to square that a nation supposedly founded on freedom and the idea that “all men are created equal” legally and morally sanctioned the enslavement of other human beings and long after the institution of slavery was abolished, still found ways legally, economically and culturally to treat African-Americans as worse than the pejorative “second-class citizens.”
Harford County, as a jurisdiction and a society, was and is by no means immune to the stigma of institutional discrimination by race. While much has been done to break those chains – both real and imagined, there’s much left that needs to be done and a lot that isn’t being done that should be.
It’s certainly important to remember during this month that African-Americans have made numerous contributions to Harford County. Many have fought to protect our country and its oft-conflicted ideals through wars across generations, some dying for a cause that for many of them was, frankly, elusive, if not downright unattainable.
Many more fought for the cause of equality and have distinguished themselves in the fields of education, medicine, science, business, politics and the arts. Most started with the odds stacked against them, but still overcame roadblocks deliberately, though often subtly, placed in their paths.
The Campaign 42 movement that began in Harford County a little more than two years ago has done a marvelous service to all of us by carefully documenting what has truly been a rich story of African-American history as it relates to Harford County. The movement, whose members are both black and white, has sought to tell an unvarnished story of how difficult it was and is for a black man, woman or child to feel completely free and unconstricted in this county, if not society as a whole.
We’re also reminded at this time of the year that as members of the media we have a responsibility to be fair and not judgmental with regard to race. As many of you know, the history of the media in Harford County, including The Aegis, has its own history of being neither toward our African-American citizens.
During Black History Month, we urge everyone reading this to learn more about the county’s history and especially the history of its African-American community and the many men and women who have richly contributed to that history.
There’s a great depth of thinking and accomplishment that should be acknowledged and understood, and we can all profit from it intellectually, regardless of our backgrounds and the color of our skins.