Here, in the United States, we have been celebrating Black History Month every February since 1970. Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom are the other nations that have an acknowledgement and celebration for our legacy. Certainly, it is very important for a people to recognize their history and seek inspiration and pride. This year, 2018 AD, for some reason has a very distinctive aura about it. I guess it is the sick contradiction of having experienced our first Black (half Black) presidential administrations followed by some of the most racially intensive years in our history.
Usually, here in Washington, DC there is a celebration at the White House noting February as Black History Month. There are receptions, luncheons and maybe even a distinctive evening paying respect to our legacy. Surprisingly, this year has turned out to be something very special. President Trump held a small luncheon in the Old Executive Building during the first week in February. It lasted a couple of hours and most of the invitees could now claim to be on the “A Team” for presidential events. It also showed which of the Obama Administration cronies were no longer on such a list. Kay and I had been through a drought as the Obama crew showed a venomous hatred towards us. So, it was indeed refreshing to be back on the winning side of the society list.
It didn’t take long to realize that this year, 2018, was going to be something great and different. We just had our first event and immediately received our second invitation. It was a planning session on African American issues. Before you could say, “Black is Beautiful” we were receiving another invitation to the White House. Unbeknownst to most of us was that this event was going to be bigger, brighter, and better. Kay and I have been going to White House events since 1993. Never, ever had any of them been so direct in its statement: “Tonight, the White House is recognizing its Blackness. Come in, our Black people, and recognize/embrace your Black Heritage.”
It was one of the largest crowds I had ever seen at the White House. The invitees were at least 85% Black. We could feel it immediately and felt no guilt or shame. It was “our night” and celebrating who we were generated 100% pride. You immediately got that feeling – “If grandma and grandpa could have lived to see this night.” President Trump and our beautiful First Lady were genuinely cordial. There were at least eight cabinet secretaries and their deputies working the crowd. There are usually military participants working the crowd but my goodness! Most of them were Black field grade officers (Major – General) (as many were female as male).
With all the “fake news” and slanted editorials plastered on the front pages of our mainstream press it was shocking and refreshing to see that the power brokers and the new “A Team” were a Big Taste of Soul. Run and tell it! Donald Trump is our President and that is a very good thing for Black America. We are only in the second month of the first year and Black attendance is surging due to the new invitee list of the First Family and new cabinet members. The calendars of the NBCC board members are filling up like never before. When it is all said and done, history will show that racial improvement occurred during the Trump Administrations.
It is coming out of the White House and is catching on via Fortune 100 corporations. Hiring, promotion, commitment etc. are becoming the norm. Thank you, Lord, this nation is finally stepping forward. It is a blessing to see the big change. America is starting to diversify finally.
There are two days left in February 2018. I hate to see them pass by. Maybe, it is a sign of what is yet to come in March 2018, then April, May and so on. Physically, I am exhausted from the new social demands. However, my optimism is greater than ever. With each day getting better, the future is destined to be the best yet.
Harry Alford is co-founder, president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.