Closing Reflections on Black History Month: Yolanda Gordon
February is Black History Month. For the month of February, we have shared a series of spotlights of some of our staff and volunteers in the Black community. This closing post is by Yolanda Gordon.
As we conclude Black History Month 2021, I am reminded of my humble beginnings in South Carolina. A state integral to the slave economy, my ancestors did not come to this country on their own accord. They were abducted from their homes, forced aboard ships, and chained to each other for days to be sold in the slave trade. It is an uncomfortable, unfathomable fact.
The value of Black History is not given the level of recognition it deserves. African Americans are allotted twenty-eight days to wade through a culture richer than chocolate and deeper than the ocean. Our history, the shared history of Black and brown people in the U.S., is often glossed over, argued over, and pushed to the side because of the uncomfortable truth that my ancestors were once owned as slaves. Our country is full of painful contrasts: while former confederate plantations proudly host re-enactments of the Civil War, I cannot trace the roots of my family lineage because of the slavery that very war sought to end.
We thank the many men and women who put their lives on the line for freedom to not only secure the right to vote, but to walk the halls of Congress and advocate for the needs of our communities. Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, Coretta Scott King, John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer, and more laid the foundation for Black advocates at RESULTS like Yanick, Valory, Donald, Mercy, Delores, Alice, and I to speak truth to power with our members of Congress and fight for justice.
We would be remiss to end Black History Month without acknowledging the Black lives that were lost in 2020 and who are now part of our history. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, and too many others were taken from us. Their deaths sparked an international outcry calling for dramatic change because their lives were invaluable. Even though RESULTS does not address police brutality through our advocacy, we do have an important role to play in ending systemic racism. We will continue to fight against inequities like the racial wealth divide, housing crisis, lack of affordable healthcare, and lack of strong safety nets to support those living at or below the poverty line. We draw inspiration and strength from the leaders who forged these paths before us.
Dr. King once wrote: “There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.” My journey, like so many other Black and brown advocates, is to continue the legacy of our brothers and sisters because we are no longer willing to sit in the abyss of despair.
Being a RESULTS advocate means making good trouble. We see the need to speak up, to organize, and to come together for the good of others. Black History is Our History, and it is 365 days a year. I want to express my sincere appreciation to all six Black RESULTS volunteers who contributed their time, emotional labor, and expertise to writing a Black History Month Blog. I also want to acknowledge the power of the Black and brown advocates in our movement. Our movement is stronger because of your leadership. Thank you for being an advocate. Everyone has a story, everyone has a history, everyone in our movement has a why, some more personal than others, but each advocate contributes to our shared impact on history.