Letter: Keep pursuing progress this Black History Month

Detroit News | 02.08.2022

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I’m Black and I’m proud! 

That’s what I’ll be shouting throughout the month as we celebrate and honor the contributions of Black Americans to the rich fabric of our nation. Here in Michigan, from our community leaders, to the State Capitol, to the halls of Congress, Black Michiganders have been trailblazers, making enormous contributions to our great state. Black history is Michigan history.

We should hold the next 21 days closely not only to celebrate the triumphs, but to also reflect on the struggles. While we’ve made historic progress — there’s a Black woman in the Vice Presidential office! — we’re still woefully behind in other areas. It’s 2022, and we’re fighting for voting rights like it’s 1963. It’s 2022, and folks are trying to ban books about Black history. It’s 2022 and there’s still more work to do, period.

I’m grateful to have a full month to share the importance of our history, which is also Michigan’s history, but with all of the progress we need to make, we deserve more than the shortest month of the year to reflect on the good and the bad. 

From the Underground Railroad to Motown to sending our first Black Michigander to Congress, we have a lot to celebrate and still more to learn about. Michigan Democrats will spend the month highlighting the Black Michiganders who have made the Great Lakes State so great by putting names to faces, and faces to stories. 

In the last cycle, black voters stood up against a repressive agenda fighting off attempts to silence them. Once this month is over, I hope members will continue to go forth and “say it loud” because this year, make no mistake about it, black representation at EVERY level is on the ballot. The voices attempting to silence the black vote — through thinly veiled legislative action and the political rhetoric of divide and conquer backed up by agendas of fear and hate — are using every tool at their disposal. Black voters will not be silenced; only with our vote can we make certain that people that look like us are representing us.

Let’s get to work.

Lavora Barnes

Chair, Michigan Democratic Party

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