Eleven years ago, Patricia J. Williams wrote a Nation column about Black History Month that’s more relevant now in the age of Obama than it was when she first penned it in the second month of George W. Bush’s first term.
"For the past forty years, and for the past 400 years, we as a nation have been eerily ‘not vocal’ about the deep structure of racism. And so some measure of white America’s prejudice has lived on, just quietly. It would be better to feel ourselves unsettled by the full truth of these historical horrors before we commend ourselves for having buried the past. As we peer into the unmarked graves of the ghosts that haunt America still, perhaps the path to peace lies not only in dreaming a better future for black children but in awakening white Americans to their own history, and to what historian Michael Harris has called ‘the past we are creating now.’"
Yes, we’ve amazingly elected an African-American president, and yes demographics are quickly bringing us to the days of "minority majorities," but a significant measure of prejudice and discrimination remains persistent and pernicious.
So, to mark this year’s Black History Month, I’ve assembled a list of groups, organizations and websites working to confront this persistent and pernicious stain on the American Experiment. A great way to celebrate the month would be to join and support their work.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. From the ballot box to the classroom, the thousands of dedicated workers, organizers, leaders and members who make up the NAACP continue to fight for social justice on issues like environmental racism, media diversity, economic opportunity and climate justice.
The Hip Hop Caucus
The Hip Hop Caucus is a civil and human rights organization for the twenty-first century. Established in 2004, the group’s primary focus is to engage more people, particularly young people and people of color in the civic and policy making process.
Established in 1971 by Rev. Jackson, People United to Save Humanity (later changed from "Save" to "Serve")—PUSH, is an organization dedicated to improving the economic conditions of black communities across the United States. PUSH has expanded into areas of social and political development using direct action campaigns, a weekly radio broadcast and awards that honored prominent blacks in the United States and abroad. Through Operation PUSH, Rev. Jackson established a platform from which to protect black homeowners, workers and businesses and keep inner city youth in school while assisting them with job placement.
National Action Center
Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, the National Action Network works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for social justice and one standard of justice and decency for all people regardless of race, religion, national origin and gender. Sharpton is justifiably controversial, but his group’s initiatives include campaigns in defense of critical entitlement programs, in support of sentencing reform and on behalf of death row inmates like Troy Davis.
Sometimes called the "Black MoveOn," CoC’s mission is to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans and to bring about positive political and social change for everyone.
The American Association for Affirmative Action
This is the association of professionals managing affirmative action, equal opportunity and diversity programs, i.e., the people who actually implement the policies. Founded in 1974, the AAAA promotes understanding and advocacy of affirmative action to enhance access and equality in employment, economic and educational opportunities.
Equal Justice Society
A national strategy group, the Equal Justice Society is heightening consciousness on race in the law and popular discourse. As heirs of the innovative legal and political strategists of Brown v. Board of Education, the organization employs a three-prong strategy of law and public policy advocacy, cross-disciplinary convenings and strategic public communications, in an effort to restore race equity issues to the national consciousness, build effective progressive alliances, and advance the discourse on the positive role of government.
Please use the comments field to let me know which groups I neglected.