I have always had somewhat mixed feelings about Black History Month because I believe that black history, as with all history, should be recognized and celebrated throughout the year rather than during any specific, limited period of time.
That being said, I was extremely honored to be one of the featured speakers at "A Day of Remembrance: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman (Rev. Albert B. Cleage Jr.)" on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at the Shrine of the Black Madonna Pan African Orthodox Christian Church. Jaramogi was not only the founder of the Shrine but was also my beloved uncle as well as one of my earliest heroes. My other heroes growing up were my other three uncles. I did not need to look any further than my own family for role models teaching me how to live a meaningful life of service and have a positive impact on my community.
My Uncle had a powerful and lasting impact on Detroit that can still be felt today. He was at the forefront of the struggle for civil rights and equality in Detroit, and he encouraged and empowered so many others to take up that struggle as well. Some of the beneficiaries of his vision and leadership were present at Wednesday's ceremony to pay tribute, and it was a pleasure to share in the remembrances of my fellow speakers, including former Congresswoman Barbara Rose Collins, Assistant Secretary of State Heaster Wheeler, historian Baba Jamon Jordan, church co-founder Cleo Burton, and Minister Malik Shabazz.
It was a very special evening, and I would like to thank all of those who made it possible. As Detroit continues along the road to revival, I believe the spirit of Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman and other leaders has never been needed more to help us achieve our goal of a stronger Detroit for all of its citizens.