As far as I’m concerned, the history of Black people in America is also American history. And now that we’ve launched into a month dedicated to highlighting that fact, I’d like to share with you a piece I wrote for Altra Running.
This month Altra’s running a series entitled “Groundbreakers” that features stories from Black athletes highlighting the people they see as having broken ground before them. New Groundbreakers are born every day. I often talk about the importance of using one’s voice to share stories because it can help shift dated notions we have about each other. And because all of our stories matter.
Here’s some of what what I shared:
“I heard the prominent Black novelist Walter Mosely once say that we don’t exist if we can’t see ourselves in the literature of the day. Present and past, he added. Toni Morrison famously said that if we don’t see the stories we want to read, we must write them ourselves. History is literature, a compilation of our stories, told for posterity. And the more we know about our stories – those of our ancestors, our neighbors, ourselves – the more real we become to each other.
“When I’m on trails and the cellphone signal falls away, I find myself imagining the lives of my predecessors. I think about the courageous men and women who led so many enslaved people to freedom; I think about the artists and authors and scholars who understood the importance of casting us in the fullness of our humanity so that we didn’t forget it when the world seemed to. I think about the people whose names I’ll never know, boycotting the buses to bring an era of inequity to its knees, and those who made their homes in inhospitable conditions under unimaginable circumstances so that we’d have a chance to live lives they couldn’t have fathomed for themselves. I take great inspiration from these groundbreakers as I run, knowing that I’m never truly going it alone. Without them and their collective efforts, I’d likely never know the privilege and joy in this freedom of movement.”
You can read the rest here.