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It's Black History Month

Bishop Carlye J. Hughes

"The blessing of Black History Month is it reminds us we are in relationships that are to be honored and treasured," says Bishop Hughes, "but to honor and treasure them we have to know each other better." (Time: 4:00.)

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Video Transcript

This is Bishop Hughes in the Diocese of Newark, and it is Black History Month. That annual celebration that takes place in our country every February 1st through March 1st, where we take an intentional look at the achievements of African Americans – the things that they have done, said, written, changed, discovered, experienced – and the impact that those people and their actions have had on the history of our nation. It is a time of great celebration and of discovery and of learning and drawing together more closely as a community across the lines of color.

I think this year is especially important to us to celebrate Black History Month. I specifically am looking at ways that I can be intentional that way. I know that the work that we have been doing in our diocese – and it's a work we've been doing for a very long time, to bring racism to an end and to bring an end to white supremacy – is work that takes continual generational commitment. And right now this generation has committed to doing work around racial healing and justice, teaching about anti-racism, and also looking deeply at the history racially of our diocese and the racial history of our parishes.

This is hard and it is good work. And even as we do that work, we make discoveries that surprise and delight us from time to time. It's important to have those because all along the way we have also been coping with racial violence and racial killings, and things that make us wonder what is happening in the world, what is happening in our country, what is happening in our neighbors, that is so dreadfully awful that we have lost respect for each other.

These awareness months – and I’ve asked our parishes to pay attention to all of them this year, Black History Month happens to be the first – these awareness months are important to us. Because we remember that we're not just simply driven by what is wrong and by crime and by hurt, and those things are important things that guide of the work that we're doing, but we're also motivated by the goodness of people, by the achievements of people. And those are things that we want to lift up and focus on and celebrate.

So, I don't know what that's going to look like in your parish. I imagine that we might see some changes to music or readings in liturgies. That there might be an adult forum or a Bible study or a book study – something that helps people look that way. That you might visit a museum or to go to a concert to see a particular group of artists. And the thing that I hold deeply in my heart is I hope every Episcopalian will, sometime during Black History Month, take a visit to another church. A church that may or may not be Episcopal, but a church that is African American. It means choosing a Sunday that you're not going to go to your church and to participate one Sunday in an African American church.

The blessing of Black History Month is it reminds us we are in relationship. In relationships that are to be honored and treasured, but to honor and treasure them we have to know each other better. So I’m excited to hear about your discoveries, and know that you have my prayers as you celebrate Black History Month.

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