By Dr. Tony Evans
The reason why an awareness and authentic understanding of Black History is so necessary is because without it, we are frequently left to define ourselves with an anemic view of who we are. Anytime people have an incomplete or inaccurate view of themselves, it affects their actions and simultaneously reinforces preconceived notions of identification.
Even with a limited understanding of church history and the Bible, it is evident that many people of African descent have had a major role in the development and dissemination of the Christian faith. From Zephaniah to Caleb to Solomon to Augustine to Tertullian to several in the very lineage of Jesus Christ, Blacks were often at the very heart of every aspect of God\’s activity on earth. It is only because people have failed to present an accurate reflection of historical truth that this reality is often ignored.
Yet, in order for each of us to carry out the purpose that we were designed to fulfill, it is essential that we not only know the entirety of the strengths of who we are, but that we walk in them.
Growing up in urban America at the height of the civil rights era as well as in the context of an incomplete historical education both in the secular culture and the church, I had gaps in understanding my rich heritage. I have spent a lifetime filling those gaps, how- ever, please note that my story is not unique, it is a story mirrored by countless others. And unfortunately, this story is still being written on the pages of the lives of millions of African Americans.
Because of this, each one of us needs to make a personal effort not to neglect or marginalize the importance of both learning and teaching Black history in our homes, schools, to our grandchildren, and in our churches. Beyond that, we need to do it for more than a month; we need to allow it to become a natural part of our worldview. In doing these things, we will begin to see ourselves the way that God sees us. This is so, because God is at the center and core of any correct analysis of our history. His viewpoint becomes our viewpoint. In God\’s definition of us, we will operate in a secure identity because who we are is rooted in a sovereign immutable Being who secures, sustains and satisfies us for His glory.
The Black church has deposited in its Biblical legacy and cultural history the clearest model of Biblical Christianity in the history of American religion. It stands on a unique pinnacle to be the visual form of the assets of Christianity: that is â€“ clearly displaying itself in culture-wide influence, lifestyle, and social ethics, demonstrating the relationship between love and justice.
However, if we fail to embrace this legacy as a lifestyle, we run the risk of forfeiting the power of it; and in doing so, we will like- wise fail to honor the memories of those who went before us in order for us to have it.
If we, in the Black church would intentionally merge strength with strength through linking together toward a goal of community restoration based on an authentic understanding of who we are, we can transform our nation with the truth of God\’s Word. We can influence and change the landscape of Black America to more accurately reflect the image of who we have been created to be.
By intentionally uniting and focusing on educating, mentoring, and training the youth of our communities with an aim of reaching not only them but also their families, we can make a lasting impact in our generation and beyond.