February is Black History Month, a time to recognize the many incredible achievements of black Americans within our society.
Without their contributions in science, writing, music, politics, and countless other disciplines, our community, country, and world would never be as amazing. I’ve met some truly incredible black men and women throughout my 24-or-so years, and I have been captivated by what so many have brought to my life.
I think what I admire most about them is their drive. Whether it was studying to become a doctor, lawyer, chemist, or a successful individual in another demanding field, they’ve been so dedicated to achieving these goals beyond anything else. During my time growing up in Hilton Head Island’s school system, attending college in North Carolina, and covering so many terrific athletes across the Lowcountry, the black men and women I have studied and worked with have been some of the most kind, dedicated, and phenomenal people I’ve met.
So why, then, can we not come together and celebrate our unity? It should have happened ages ago.
The fact that a considerable amount of people still believe that racism is acceptable is downright frightening. I really thought after the many warning signs around this country that we all would learn our lesson, but it just didn’t happen.
Because the killing of George Floyd happened. And Breonna Taylor happened. And so many countless others it would take hours upon hours to list. It’s gone far beyond “about time” for these nightmare scenarios to end.
But at the same time, I also have massive hope that by the day I hang things up in my career, we will get pretty close, if not achieve the sought-after goal of unity.
Right now, it may seem like a far-fetched dream, but when we look at what the next generation has done to spur lasting change, we are certainly on the right track. From incredible local figures like May River High graduate and Wake Forest University student Savannah Littlejohn to national sensations like poet Amanda Gorman, the next generation knows how important this is.
And their white friends have backed them up all the way through. After centuries of mistreatment that the black population never deserved, the young populace is finally starting to realize the mistakes that we have made. But in order to achieve this goal of lasting change in our country, we must all dig in ourselves and use our actions to inspire others to do the same.
As we approach the final week of Black History Month, it’s the perfect time to take that action. Go online and read up on local black heroes and culture, like Robert Smalls and the Gullah Geechee people. Visit local landmarks, like Mitchellville in Hilton Head or the Penn Center in Beaufort. Educate yourself, so that you can pass that knowledge on to others.
Like Beaufort track coach Herbert Glaze said in our interview on the Lowco Sitdown podcast, we can’t let those libraries of knowledge go to waste.
We can also do our part by helping our neighbors. Support black-owned businesses, volunteer your time to assist families in need, and share words of love on social media platforms, not words of hate.
Just like in sports, in order to claim victory, we all have to make our mark on the team to achieve the success that we are hoping for. And we all have the power to make a difference in the struggle to get to where we need to be.
Although this is a column on a sports website, LowCoSports.com is so much more than just a site that covers athletics. We recognize that many of the coaches and athletes — like much of the audience we serve — continue to experience a different America than many of us. We strive to make a difference for our community beyond just what happens on the field, and we believe that it is our priority to work toward a world where we all have the same privileges and the same love for each other.
It may sometimes seem like a goal that is too far away, but if we all buy in as one team and work our hardest to achieve that goal, we will get there. With more and more brilliant and talented black Americans rising to prominence across the spectrum, we are already seeing the fruits of our labor, but we still have a long way to go.
If we continue to all do our part and spread love and respect for all — and only then — we will one day reach the mountaintop.
By Wes Kerr