Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, former President Emerita of Spelman College and author of the nationally praised Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race (1997), offered the devotion at the February 5th Transform Westside Summit. In celebrating the start of Black History Month, Dr. Tatum highlighted the importance of honest and open dialogue about the realities of systemic racism.
Drawing inspiration from The Bible’s book of Nehemiah, Dr. Tatum drew parallels between the plight of Jerusalem’s displaced Israelites and African Americans. “Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it,” said Dr. Tatum. “Those who don’t know the successes of their history, their greatness, are less likely to repeat that greatness,” she added, going on to list examples of exemplary Black historic figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Dovey Johnson Roundtree, and Amanda Gorman.
Inspired by Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” Dr. Tatum closed with an uplifting message: “let’s all be brave enough,” she said, “inspired by our history, to be the light for each other in this place, in this community, at this time.”