Whether you’re a regular celebrator of Black History Month or not, I think God has something to say to all of us in it. He may even have something to do through you, too—not just in February but all year long.
Black History Month has been a celebrated time in my life ever since I learned what it was. In school, we would have specific projects where we were instructed to learn and present on different black leaders in this country. It was a time to be educated on the struggles that black men and women, families, and immigrants faced in this country, as well as celebrate the successes and innovation they have achieved through their struggle.
For me, it has always been a month of learning and celebrating. But more recently, as I have continued to reflect on my own experiences in life, it has also become a symbol of gratitude for me. As an Indian-American with immigrant parents, I look at Black History Month, the black leaders who have fought for new legislation in this country through their voice and action, and I cannot help but be thankful.
I love that I live in this country. I am so grateful for the life I have with my wife, the education I received, the experiences I have had up to this point, and it dawned on me on a trip to Washington D.C. when I attended the commitment march on Washington in 2020 that if it was not for the black leaders that came before me, I would not have any of the things I am grateful for.
Looking at Black History Month today, I look at the leaders who, because of their voice and action, were able to push things like the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968, and specifically the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. It enabled people like my parents to come into this country and pursue the things they felt called to do. And when I think about how while these leaders were fighting for equity, equality, and justice, they also paved the way for so many more people.
The Bible talks about how every good gift comes from God (James 1:17). I think about this verse because, while I do not know for sure, I cannot imagine the civil rights leaders, in particular, were thinking about immigrants from India coming to America to pursue careers and specific educational goals. I would have to imagine their whole focus was the huge task right in front of them, dispelling and breaking racist systems that oppressed their people. Yet because of their work, they created a way for more people to experience the freedom they were trying to fight for so valiantly.
That’s the beautiful thing about God. He takes whatever we can give, whatever we do in His name, and multiplies it.
As a believer in Jesus, there are some biblical principles in here that hit me pretty hard.
- Do the work in front of you with all your heart and soul (Col 3:23-24). I believe many black leaders who we celebrate today are celebrated because they were not simply doing what was in it for themselves, but rather for a bigger, greater purpose that went way beyond just them.
- The concept of compounding interest is real. I believe the work that black leaders did before us has continued to compound and exponentially grow in their impact. Even just taking the civil rights acts discussed above, those provided freedoms for black individuals and families at the time but were used to grant freedoms to people of other ethnicities, cultures, and nationalities. I see this talked about when Jesus gives the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23). By planting seeds in the right places, the outcome can produce much more fruit than you had even planned for or expected. There is MUCH more work to be done for their goals to be fully realized, but they began something we can each continue.
- We are responsible for what we do with what we have. What we do with what we’ve been given matters. As you invest in things that God cares about, it can become more clear where God wants you to spend time in order to make earth a clearer picture of the Kingdom. Jesus tells a story called the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), where he teaches how investing what you have in the right things will give you more opportunities to continue investing in the things God cares about.
As I continue to reflect and internalize what Black History Month means to me, I have also discovered a calling. A calling to work in such a way that will leave a legacy and can be worked off of long after me. To work in such a way that points back to the things God cares about. And to pave the way for all people who come after me so they can experience more of the life they are called to experience.