EDITOR’S NOTE: To recognize Black History Month, the MDJ asked 20 community leaders how they will celebrate and what BHM means to them. Today we feature east Cobb Commissioner Jerica Richardson.
“I know my history is littered with a lot of Black history moments,” Richardson said. From sharecropping to the fight for voting rights to serving in World War II to the ghastly Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, her forebears experienced much of that history first-hand.
“I think Black history is American history,” she said. “So for me, it’s upsetting that it’s relegated to a month and to a certain degree, it’s trivia facts.
“If more people could identify with the contributions of Black pioneers, they would see ... some of the things that we hold to be truly American run parallel with Black history, from the design of (Washington) D.C., to the mailbox (to) streetlights, and so on, that those things are integral parts to what we define as American progress and innovation.”
Richardson said she doesn’t observe Black History Month in the “traditional” sense. While she has made a point to make herself available for events — she recently moderated a Black History Month competition hosted by local schools, for example — the commissioner has a different notion of what it means to celebrate.
“For me, it’s really just keeping focused ... looking at the issues that face the community (and) looking into working with some nonprofits in order to administer some services,” she said.
As much as anything, observing Black History Month is about reflection on the “collective wisdom and knowledge and sacrifice” that gave her opportunities. The opportunity to serve as Cobb’s District 2 commissioner and to “choose a life of freedom.”
“And that is the one thing that is priceless,” she said.