And Still I Rise

It doesn’t seem like it would be Black History Month without a mention of Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. This stalwart intellectual, author and filmmaker is a regular supplier of commentary and programs for the Public Broadcasting System, a sample of which includes his recent “And Still I Rise:  Black America Since MLK” documentary (there’s also a book; see below.).


When I am able, I watch his show Finding Your Roots, which traces the family lineage of famous people sometimes going as far back as their original homeland. I will never forget the episode with Chris Rock (actor, comedian) who discovered his great grandfather (I might be missing a great) was a Union soldier who took up the fight for freedom once he became free. Rock cried when he discovered this and I cried, too. It was moving! After learning something that profound, how does one not stick out one’s chest and proudly proclaim, “I’m black and I’m proud!”

As we celebrate Black History Month I think about what Black America would look like if every black person stuck out their chest and said, “I’m black and I’m proud,” and meant it. I imagine there would be no more gang violence or black-on-black crime. I imagine the effects of separation by light-skinned versus dark-skinned would vanish and there’d be a great reduction of black men in prison or on the streets. In the Black America of “I’m black and I’m proud,” education would be priority number one, hard work number two, and one goal—the continued rise of all black people in body, spirit and mind—would be the be all, end all.

Black people, we can do this! We can still rise, and not only during Black History Month when pride runs high, but all year, every year. Even if our great-grandfather did not fight for freedom, we can all claim a legacy of freedom fighting. How? By voting. By writing letters to our newspaper editors or writing emails to news/media outlets. By attending board and council meetings and challenging our leaders when necessary. By creating our own non-profits that address societal ills. By starting our own businesses (and supporting those businesses). By posting positive images and facts over negative ones. By speaking truth regardless of how hard that might be. By fighting, fighting, fighting.

Black people, we can do this! If our forefathers could rise out of slavery to run countries and businesses, to raise healthy families, to hang on to positive morals and values, to make a way out of no way, how can we not rise with all that is available to us? We can do this. We can rise. We must rise.

15 thoughts on “And Still I Rise

  1. Pingback: And Still I Rise | ugiridharaprasad

  2. So so beautiful and true. If we stop thinking or allowing what others think about us and start relying on our ancestral strength, belief, and strong strong heritage and pass from generation to generation. Realize that we as a race are still in our infant stage of freedom, of releasing our mind from the bondage of slavery. We haven’t mentally, started pre-k…
    Every new thing in life must must proceed in steps, stages in order for achieve success.
    Each generation must take with it the memories of the past. Not to hold one back but to add on to that seed that is watered and watered and watered. Growing upward beyond what can even be imagined. And that history is the foundation of STRENGTH!
    Love what you said cousin! Love it!

    • Thanks, Rae. I never thought about being in the “infant stage of freedom.” But you’re right. It hasn’t been that long since slavery, regardless, rising will require strength. Carry on…be strong.

  3. I believe in all people rising as a whole people. If there isn’t scaffolding enough to support the choice to stand up for each other, it may fail. Ann, very powerful “battle cry!” You go, girl! All of us go and Rise!!

    • Robin, I truly believe that one day we will all understand there’s one race – the human race. Until then, there are pockets of people with a specific agenda. Addressing that agenda gets us to ONE WORLD faster, well heck, it gets us there period. Thanks for the encouraging words. Keep doing what you do to help us all rise.

  4. I am honored and happy to stand with you. I try not to get sad nor discouraged for areas in our world, country,. . . all the way down to towns which have disenfranchised people. My Mom and Dad dropped us at my aunt and uncle’s farm to go and march in Washington DC (8/28/63). We were so excited to hear they got on a bus in Huron, Ohio with other members of their congregation and traveled there. As a HS teacher, mom privately chose someone from each grade/class to send helpful support. Living the March. Not just talking it!! ❤ Ann, I sincerely Hope this new wave of Rising "sticks" and we all can be "brothers and sisters!"

    • God bless your mother. I just saw on the news last night that a gentleman, 100 years old, lost his wife and only child years and years ago and while he could have been bitter, he chose to financially support students in their quest for education. It was a great reminder of the phrase, “my brother’s keeper.” Sounds like your mom and dad lived that phrase and more. And I can tell from your posts you do the same, with the love and care you show to people, places and creatures. Thank you for “living the march” in your own way.

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