February is of course "Black History Month." Inevitably, like all things dealing with race in America, Black History Month functions as a blank slate onto which people project their own attitudes, often giving rise to politically charged questions like "Is Black History Month Necessary?" or "Can Whites Write Black History?"
But for me, having seen the nation move from de jure segregation to the election of an African American president in my lifetime, and seeing among some younger folks today possessing an almost blase attitude towards the enormity of that social change (and the cost in sweat and blood that achieving that change required), Black History Month offers an important opportunity to inform younger Americans, and to remind ourselves, that our national ideal of the equality of man is only as good and as strong as we are in our determination to put it into practice.
Thats what I think of when I see this video of civil right movement era movie footage accompanied by Mavis Staples with Ry Cooder singing "Eyes on the Prize" from her 2007 album We'll Never Turn Back. If you're old enough to remember Jim Crow America, do the nation a favor this month and tell someone too young to have that memory what it was like and that yes, it can happen here and did, but also that with persistence and determination change was possible.