The month of February is once more upon us and with it the annual observance and remembrance of the significant stories of Black survival, Black struggle, Black sacrifice and Black success in America, despite overwhelming odds. For the next four weeks, The Washington Informer will focus on themes that include this week’s “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” a phrase made popular by James Brown and thoroughly embraced by African Americans during the 1960s; The Artistry of Dance and Music: ‘Soul-sational’; Africa: Birthplace of Civilization; and History, Herstory, Our Story in America.
We’re excited to consider these themes as we develop related stories which we hope will educate, enlighten and empower our readers. The two images pictured here are a reminder of the millions of men, women and children who lost their lives in the inhumane American system of slavery that remained in force for over 200 years — and whose influence remains even today. On Saturday, Feb. 3 at 5:15 p.m., The Archdiocese of Washington will hold a mass and blessing of memorial markers (one pictured here) honoring enslaved men and women at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast. The markers will be placed at several Catholic cemeteries in the archdiocese. One of them, Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, founded in 1858, serves as the only final resting place with known graves of enslaved peoples.
The mass and blessing service will serve as part of the archdiocese’s ongoing dialogue and reconciliation efforts to serve as witnesses to the unity of God’s family and to acknowledge the sin of enslavement in the D.C. region. It will be a day of healing. We’ll share more about this historic event in our next edition. But we believe it represents the kinds of unique opportunities and explorations that will continue throughout Black History Month. It’s time to reflect in solitude and community, to celebrate, to look back and see how far we have come and to lock arms in unity as we go about the work that remains undone.