Image depicting white text on a black background that reads "Black History Today." The word today is accented with a red and green line.

Black History Today: In Community, the Power of ‘I AM’ Becomes ‘WE ARE’

by Marcus Harden

Black History Today, created by Marcus Harden in celebration of Black History Month, pays tribute to the living legacy of Black history in our community and beyond and recognizes the people shaping the future.

Presented in collaboration with Rise Up for Students.

The power of “I AM” is indeed amazing. I often wonder why that isn’t one of the first principles we teach, as knowledge of self is probably the greatest and longest lesson we will ever embark upon. One of my greatest joys is surprising people each year, penning the Black History Today series and continuing to recognize everyday heroes and historymakers who shape our communities.

Yet, as I’ve grown and just become more aware, the power of “I AM” at some point has to transcend into “We are …”

If we’ve learned nothing else over the last 2,700 years and 11 days that we’ve been in a Pandemic/Panera Bread/Panini known as COVID — which, all joking aside, has transformed our lives, way of being, and way of knowing — we’ve been thrust into living the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote:

“In a real sense all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be … This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I firmly believe those words. And I also believe that the 28 (maybe 27, maybe 29) historymakers who I have the privilege of honoring and sharing with each and every one of you are truly reflections of the history that is inside of each and every one of us, either happening or waiting to happen. 

Their recognition is our recognition. These are people who transform communities, education, corporate workspaces, families, and invariably the world. People who are dealers of hope and inspiration, and who do the work every single day to make this world a better place, one day at a time. Maybe most importantly, they are the Alchemists who transform  “I AM”… into “WE ARE.”

And WE ARE … all better for having them in our lives.

Marcus Harden is a seasoned educator, with experience as a teacher, counselor, dean, administrator, and program and policy manager. Marcus focuses his work on creating better culture and climate for students, families, and staff. He believes deeply in restorative justice practices and in mindset and resiliency work that leads to excellent and equitable educational outcomes for all students.

📸 Featured image by Devin Chicras for the Emerald.

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