Black History month is something that we pay close attention to in our family. Raising children who are of African American and Japanese descent, it is important to my husband and I that we show our children Christian heroes who look like them.
There are many amazing African American Christian heroes that teach invaluable lessons to our children and families. Below are 9 (of many) Black Christian heroes who achieved amazing things in the name of Jesus.
Lott Carey (1780-1828)
Born into slavery, Carey learned how to read the Bible and eventually purchased his freedom from enslavement. Lott led the first Baptist missionaries into Africa, eventually settling into ministry in Liberia. Lott is a phenomenal example of trusting God in the midst of impossible situations.
Jerena Lee (1783-1864)
After years of pursuing her call to preach, Jerena Lee was the first woman authorized to preach in the AME (African Methodist Episcopal Church). Lee walked thousands of miles on foot to preach the gospel and authored the first published autobiography by an African American woman. She is a testament to obeying God at any cost.
Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)
Sojourner Truth defied the odds by escaping slavery and becoming a strong voice in the abolitionist movement. Led by her relationship with Jesus, Truth was best known for her role in women’s rights and her speech “Ain’t I a Woman”. She eventually had a meeting with Abraham Lincoln as she became one of the foremost human rights activists of her time. It is clear that Sojourner drew her strength from Jesus and gives hope to all who serve Christ.
Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)
Although Harriet Tubman escaped slavery in 1849, she was not satisfied with just her own freedom. Tubman said it was the voice of God that helped her lead as many as 300 slaves into freedom using the Underground Railroad. Her commitment to live out God’s calling is an inspiration to all.
George Washington Carver (1864-1943)
George Washington Carver is an amazing example of what perseverance looks like. Despite both the blatant and institutionalized racism he encountered while pursuing higher education, Carver never gave up and eventually became the first African American to earn a Bachelor of Science degree. His example of moving forward despite the opposition all around him speaks volumes to staying the course.
Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Rosa Parks is well known for getting arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama for a White man. Parks said she refused to stand because she was tired of giving in to inhumane laws against Blacks.
Her bravery in this situation sparked the year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her tenacity and refusal to accept unconstitutional behavior coined Rosa Parks as the “mother” of the Civil Rights Movement. By standing for what’s right, Parks helped shape the way for the rights of Black people in America.
Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
Maya Angelou was a Civil Rights Activist, American poet, actress, and author who helped pave the way for African American women writers. Angelou understood that living for Jesus is all about practicing and realizing that we’ll never have it all together. Thus our need for a Savior. Her writings are a source of encouragement for Christians as we do our best each day to be more like Christ.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an iconic Black American hero who is best known for his speech, “I Have a Dream”. He was a Baptist minister who played a large role in the American Civil Rights Movement. King was the leader of many organized, non-violent protests to include the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington. These events are believed to be key elements that helped pass both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
King’s life was cut short when he was assassinated on the evening of April 4, 1968. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill to create Martin Luther King Day as a national day. The first Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated on the third Monday in January of 1986.
T.D. Jakes (1957-present)
Thomas Dexter “T.D.” Jakes is an American author, filmmaker, and pastor of the Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas. Jakes is well known for helping women who have been abandoned and abused through his “Woman Thou Art Loosed” events. The focus of these events are to empower women, specifically single moms, on how to raise godly men. His commitment to nurturing and growing Christian men is changing our culture and bringing a new generation of God-fearing men to the forefront.
While this is only a small sampling of the many amazing Black Christian heroes that have walked the face of this earth, they should be household names for my children and for yours. I encourage you to embrace these amazing heroes and the legacy they have created for Christians all over the world. Look them up. Find books that share their stories. Remind your kids that Black History Month is set aside to celebrate heroic people of color but our focus on these role models should not wane. Every day is an opportunity to learn from the people of color all around us. Let Black History Month inspire you to lean in, listen, and learn 365 days of the year.