28 Days of Black Excellence

Regular Sunday columnist Ray Marcano wrote that he wasn’t excited for Black History Month this year.

The event, he wrote, has become “marginalized with meaningless recitations of the figures we know, but no meaningful discussions about how history continues to impact Black people today.”

Marcano’s column should serve as a challenge to anyone “checking the box” of Black History Month, to go beyond name-dropping Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or casually recognizing the other familiar names and accomplishments.

“No one individual, regardless of race, bears blame for the country’s systematic discrimination of the past.” Marcano continued. “But we’re all responsible for what happens now. That starts with connecting the dots, understanding how the past impacts today, and why Black people still face a tough road to equality.”

We often hear about the problems confronting our Black communities and our reporting on these problems is the critical first step in identifying and overcoming them. As we wrote earlier this year, for every topic our reporters cover, there are numerous people in the community whose perspective and expertise can enrich the conversation. Building on the strong reporting from our staff, it is the role of Ideas & Voices to lead discussion and debate about how the Dayton region gets better.

Throughout February, Ideas & Voices will be “connecting the dots” by profiling Black individuals and organizations doing the work to better our communities. Black History Month presents an opportunity to, as Marcano said, understand how the past impacts today and, critically, to turn that understanding into action. These contributors are community leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, volunteers and more. They are problem-solvers, solution-seekers and change agents.

We are excited to share with you these contributed columns throughout the rest of the month as we continue to explore issues important to our Black communities. We are also making it a point to, as much as possible, feature photography from local Black photographers to accompany these columns, including work from Shon Curtis, Imani Mari and Sean Korey.

Of course, this commitment doesn’t begin and end in February. Ideas & Voices aims to mirror the diversity of our communities throughout the year. Many of the issues discussed this month are deeply entrenched and these columns should serve as a launching point for further conversation — and action — well beyond Black History Month.

We hope you enjoy this month’s project and invite you to follow along with the rest of our Black History Month coverage at daytondailynews.com/black-history.