Black History Month

Graphic showing white flowers against a green background. Wordage: Happy Monday in black lettering

A few years ago on the blog I wrote about Marcus Garvey, an important figure in early Civil Rights efforts in the 1920s and 30s. We’re celebrating Black History Month, so I thought it would be nice to share some of the original post.

”Men who are in earnest are not afraid of consequences.”
Marcus Garvey

When I saw that quote from Inspiring Quotes and read the following blurb about the quote’s author, I was intrigued and did a Google search to find out more.

Jamaica-born Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) was a civil rights activist and Black nationalist whose views often incited backlash. A public speaker and advocate, he led the Pan-Africanism movement, connecting people of African descent worldwide. However, his activism made him a target of the Bureau of Investigation (later known as the FBI), resulting in his arrest and controversial 1923 conviction for mail fraud. Garvey continued to write papers even from prison, and after he was released, he went on to speak to the League of Nations about race. Garvey’s lifelong dedication shows us that committing to a cause can offset our fears and empower us beyond our imagination.

On the website, there’s quite a lot of information about Marcus Garvey, who had significant influence on those active in the Civil Rights movement in the 50s and 60s, even though he died in 1940. But some of the work he did during his life, laid a foundation for those who came after him, like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Garvey was known as the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Formed in Jamaica in July 1914, the UNIA aimed to achieve Black nationalism through the celebration of African history and culture.

The theme for Black History Month this year is art and culture, and because of his interest in promoting African culture, it seemed appropriate to mention Garvey here on the blog again. If you’re interested in more information about this year’s theme, check the government website Black History Month 2024 In addition to highlighting Black culture, the site also dives into significant historical moments.

Now I want to tell you about another special Black man. Not one who will ever be in the history books, but one who touched many lives as a teacher and a preacher.

He was also an important part of my personal growth as a White woman attempting to grasp the reality of what it was, and is, like to live as a person of color.

I met Mr. Charles in Omaha Nebraska in the mid 90s. He was a retired Presbyterian minister, a neighbor, and a very kind, generous man. When harvesting his garden, he’d put sacks of vegetables on the sidewalk for anyone to take what they needed.

Most days when I walked my dog, I’d see Mr. Charles out in his yard taking care of the garden or shoveling snow in the winter. We’d stop and talk for a bit while my dog sniffed where other dogs had been, or just sat and waited for the walk to resume. Mr. Charles was thrilled to find out that my husband was a minister and that I’m a hospital chaplain, finding a common bond in shared ministry.

When I stopped to visit, conversations often revolved around the pleasure of fishing. I told him about the fun I had with a friend in South Dakota fishing for walleyes. He agreed that was a good-tasting fish, but he preferred the trout at a lake much closer. Good for eating and the fish heads made good fertilizer.

That’s how he grew such large tomatoes and pretty flowers.

One day he told me how much he missed fishing, and I was surprised to find out he was no longer going out. He explained that his children, both of whom lived some distance away, were afraid for him to be at the lake alone, and the friend he used to fish with was no longer able to join him.

Mr. Charles mentioned this a couple more times when I stopped on my daily walk, and finally it hit me that maybe he was really grieving for this loss in his life. I asked if he would like to go fishing with me sometime.

“Oh, I thought you would never ask,” he said.

“But why didn’t you just ask me?”

“Because a black man cannot invite a white woman to do anything,” he said. “That is the way I was raised. I could never be that forward. But there is nothing in that code of conduct that says I cannot accept your invitation.”

The last was said with a hint of a smile, and so began a wonderful time of fishing together. On the way to and from the lake, we talked about so many things: faith, family, the state of the world. But at the lake there was no talking. Just sitting in a chair, or leaning on the railing of the dock, listening to the birds chatter to each other and watching the sun make diamonds on the waves.

Quiet contemplation – such a powerful force in spirituality.

Two different men. One very much in the spotlight, the other quietly spreading the message of peace and love through his ministry. I was honored to know Mr. Charles and spend time with him at the lake or chatting while leaning on his fence. The other man I didn’t know until I read the quote by him a couple years ago. But they both taught me something about living a life in which I’ve endeavored to spread the same messages that were so dear to their hearts.


If you have anything you’d like to share about your experiences with getting to know more about the Black experience, please do leave a comment.


That’s all from me for today, folks. Whatever your plans are for this the start of a brand-new week, I hope your efforts are fruitful and your play is invigorating. Be safe. Be happy.

2 thoughts on “Black History Month”

  1. Love the story about this part if your life Aunt Maryann, never heard it before and I can picture you two fishing 🎣 and contemplating ❣️🫂

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sue. Glad you enjoyed meeting Mr. Charles.. He was an interesting may, very educated and well read. We had lots of great conversations on the way to the lake and back. I learned so much from him. We did have a good time contemplating and sometimes even brought home some fish.

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