By: Dr. Mike Hill, Dr. Clifford Mack, and Mrs. Shawnteria Mack, M.Ed.
CCA’s Director of Academics Dr. Mike Hill, High School Counselor Dr. Clifford Mack, and High School English Teacher Mrs. Shawnteria Mack, M.Ed share the heart behind Black History Month and encourage people of all races to partake in this celebration of Black culture, achievements, and history.
Our high school students recently wrapped up a four-week chapel series titled More Than A Label, which explored identity, race, and stereotypes, and what God has to say about these topics. Their teachers, school and church leaders, and peers shared how the labels other people had placed on them throughout their lives painted an incomplete or untrue picture of who they were. Yet, when others took the time and made an intentional effort to understand who they actually were, and when they also made the same effort, that’s when barriers were broken and relationships were restored.
This Black History Month, we set out to gain a deeper understanding of this month’s significance by talking with CCA’s Director of Academics Dr. Mike Hill, High School Counselor Dr. Clifford Mack, and High School English Teacher Mrs. Shawnteria Mack, M.Ed. From their perspective as Black Christian educators, they discuss how everyone, regardless of their skin color, can play a part in celebrating the culture, achievements, and history of Black men and women worldwide in a God-honoring way.
What does Black History mean to people of color?
Black History Month is a time of celebration, reflection and recognition. The term “Black” encompasses more than simply those brought to the States in bondage; it represents the beautiful hues of those who have been influenced by various cultures and backgrounds that began their journey from the African continent. It is a celebration of Black heritage and culture — not only the things that make Black men and women unique, but also what makes them valuable to a local and global community.
we are all interconnected as we journey through life as one in Christ.
This month is not (and should not be) just significant to those from these influences — it also serves as a bridge to understanding how we are all interconnected as we journey through life as one in Christ. A natural part of this celebration is looking back with grateful eyes on the people, famous and not so famous alike, that paved the way for the Black community today. Our ancestors provided us with their shoulders to stand on and propel our success.
Black History is recognizing leaders today who are currently navigating and blazing a trail for future generations. This ensures that we do not remain in the past and forget the journey and struggles of our forefathers and foremothers, but rather build a future for ourselves and the generations that will follow after us. According to poet and author Maya Angelou, we look at those who have contributed to Black culture and “stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. You are a child of God. Stand up straight.”
Our ancestors provided us with their shoulders to stand on and propel our success.
Why is this month significant and should be recognized?
Black History Month is not just a compilation of events that define "Black" history. It includes events fundamental to both American and World History. Due to the plight of Blacks and various other social and political dynamics, the contributions of Blacks have often been overlooked in schools, communities, and society as a whole alike. In The Father of Black History, Carter G. Wooden noted that African-American contributions "were overlooked, ignored, and even suppressed by the writers of history textbooks and the teachers who use them."
We need Black History Month until Black History is naturally and inextricably a part of American and World History.
Many people who read today's history books are unaware of this fact, and as such, are learning a fractured history. This grave omission of Blacks in history coupled with the uniquely oppressive plight suffered by many Blacks, justifies the need to set aside a specific time to ensure that we steadily repair the damage of former generations while bridging the historical gaps for current generations. We need Black History Month until Black History is naturally and inextricably a part of American and World History. Finally, by reflecting on the unique components of Black history, it encourages future generations to never neglect the human need for life, love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and dignified purpose.
How can we process the significance of Black History through a biblical worldview?
Directly and indirectly. Directly, because the plight of Blacks is similar to that of the Old Testament Hebrews. They were people that served as slaves in a foreign land. They were oppressed, tortured, and forced to build a society and culture for others. They were enslaved for nearly 400 years. Due to this overwhelmingly difficult season of their history, the Passover Celebration is still held as a remembrace of the day God delivered them from slavery. So there is a direct precedence in Scripture for a people to remember God's deliverance and helping them overcome massive oppression.
Black History can also be more indirectly viewed from a biblical worldview in the sense that the Bible is filled with traditions that are honored by people in the Bible. Traditions serve a viable societal function. As long as the original purpose is good and the tradition continues to point toward that original purpose, the tradition should be respected.
As long as the original purpose is good and the tradition continues to point toward that original purpose, the tradition should be respected.
Along this vein, nearly every major holiday in America has to be questioned if the Black History tradition is questioned. Christmas is not short of people who question whether the annual celebration still points toward its original purpose — to celebrate the coming over our King. Moreover, what does the resurrection of Christ have to do with eggs and a bunny? They are all traditions we've chosen, but not commanded in the Bible to celebrate a certain way. Joshua 4 highlights the children of Israel’s establishing of a memorial stone to be a sign... “So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.” Black History is a practice of recognizing traditions and customs so that we don’t forget and forever remember.
What would be your (3) action steps for someone to honor and celebrate Black History? What should they do?
HONOR: We need to take the time to enjoy components of Black culture by engaging in celebrating with understanding and enjoying the food, fashion, music, literature, and ingenuity of Black people. And by doing so, we can also incorporate how our cultures blend and merge and highlight God’s intentionality in creating a beautifully diverse people — His people.
HIGHLIGHT: We need to take the time to remember those who have contributed and improved the conditions for Black people. There are numerous persons (black and white) who have made contributions; take time to learn and pass along knowledge gained. There are so many untold stories that need to be shared. Though some of these stories are painful and raw, they still hold a potent place in the history and present of Blacks. Our children and their children need to understand their past because it's not until we understand the past that we can interpret the present and promote hope for the future. Knowledge is power!
Our children and their children need to understand their past because it's not until we understand the past that we can interpret the present and promote hope for the future.
HONE: We need to sharpen our understanding that Black History IS American History. They are not separate but are one story with many perspectives. It is important to “give people their flowers while they are alive,” which simply means that we should recognize current Black leaders who are fully actualizing the dreams those before us had for Blacks. This would be something to do as a community. On an individual level, people can promote unity and peace by engaging in intentional conversations about Black culture (the perceived negative and positive), asking questions, and resisting the temptation to avoid hard or difficult conversations.
Many people who are not Black may claim to not see color, but the reality is that many Blacks want you to see our color because it represents where we came from and the experiences that shaped us into the people we are today. But as Christians, it’s important to remember that our identity should not be rooted in our race or ethnicity, but solely in Jesus Christ; we are daughters and sons of the King — a masterpiece that was created in His image to do good works for His glory (Genesis 1:27; Ephesians 2:10).
We will only need Black History until all of God's people have one history. Until a day comes when the whole of the human race can look back and say, "that's our history. We overcame bigotry, hatred, and division. We are now one people."
We will only need Black History until all of God's people have one history.
Dr. Mike Hill is in his first year as the Director of Academics at Calvary Christian Academy. He previously served as Head of School at Hollywood Christian School, currently Calvary Christian Academy Hollywood. He has a passion for serving the Kingdom of God through education and has served in various instructional and leadership roles in both public and private sectors. Dr. Hill is a graduate of Valdosta State University in Georgia.
Dr. Clifford H. Mack, Jr. is a high school School Counselor and has worked at Calvary Christian Academy for 6 years. He has a passion to serve, shepherd, and support student and parent success.
Shawnteria Mack, M.Ed. is a high school English teacher at Calvary Christian Academy and has worked at CCA for 5 years. She is currently writing her dissertation for her Ph.D. in Language, Literature, Literacy and Culture. She is married to Dr. Mack and they have three children who attend Calvary Christian Academy.
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