What if the month of black history became the “month of black futures”?

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5-year-old Riley Johnson poses in front of a portrait with his mother Sasha Boner in Charlotte, North Carolina, on February 4, 2022. Riley dressed up in black female figures on Black History Month.

Knikouyeh@charlotteobserver.com

Black people have a long memory. If there were people who embodied “sorry, but never forget”, it was us. If your story is so dramatic and poignant, it’s easy to get caught up in it.

While honoring our ancestors and consolidating in our past victories over adversity has always been our strong costume, so has work on a dynamic new future.

Dr. Martin Luther King showed us the top of the mountain and made us follow the common dream of a better, more equal existence for our children. This cross-cutting line continued to President Obama’s bold hopes and present Afrofuturism from Octavia Butler to Janelle Monet.

All this history and focus on the future has brought us to where we are today: a wonderful moment when the youth mass movements for change pushed us to consolidate the Month of the Black Future as a revival of the Month of Black History.

Despite my gray hair, I have to say I’m here for that. This shift toward black futures has huge implications for how we might remember and celebrate differently this month.

Perhaps we will pay attention to the millions of Africans from the diaspora who are leaving their homeland to secure a better future for themselves, their families.

Perhaps we will find time to support future-oriented leadership Lafonsa Butler, born in Mississippi, now manages the EMILY list and supports the political campaigns of progressive women. In years to come, when we have more people like Stacey Abrams and Ayana Presley representing our communities, we will need to thank Butler and her team.

We could also turn our attention to exciting projects that foster a more secure economic future, like Trust mother magnolia (also in Mississippi), led by Dr. Aisha Nyandora.

Launched in 2018, the Trust is the longest-running guaranteed income project in the U.S. and one of the first to focus specifically on black women. By developing it, Nyandora and her team quickly realized that the main problem was that financial constraints impaired a mother’s ability to imagine a better future for herself and her children.

Nendora wrote in the latter Gup piece: “Most of these women led a life focused solely on the well-being of their children, which made them have difficulty answering this question. One said, “I would buy new clothes for my baby.” Okay, but it’s not for you. They couldn’t even understand the concept of having a few extra dollars for themselves. ”

By providing additional financial support without conditions and decisions, the Trust literally helps mothers build new futures in ways they never imagined possible. The results speak for themselves:

Mothers in the program increased their ability to pay regular bills on time from 27% to 83%.

Women in the program increased their savings for emergencies from 40% to 88%

The percentage of mothers who report enough money for food has risen from 64% to 81%.

Many of these incredible results were achieved during the pandemic, no less.

This month, taking the time to look to the future to empower blacks like Nyandora, I have re-embarked on the opportunities that await our communities in the south and across the black diaspora.

Simpkins is a scholar of constitutional rights and a former lawyer for the Obama administration. He is now president of MDC Inc., a nonprofit organization in Durham that focuses on improvement economic mobility and equity enhancement.



What if the month of black history became the “month of black futures”?

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