BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — 2020 changed a lot of different things for people. With protests and other racial tensions rising, the year also shaped the way this year's Black History Month will be celebrated.
“It is implying that we don't exist until February and we exist in all throughout the fabric of America,” Dr. Gregory Tatum, Pastor of Change Community Church said. “We have to remember to acknowledge that.”
From the COVID-19 pandemic to Black Lives Matter protests, 2020 brought a lot of changes with it. Tatum says it also highlighted a tumultuous time for African-Americans.
“What it has done for me as an African-American in America and let me understand that we have a whole lotta work to do to educate and to let people know about our history,” he said.
Dr. Tatum explains that everything that took place in 2020 has put a new meaning to 2021's Black History Month.
Tatum is not the only Bakersfield resident who shares these emotions. Patrick Jackson, who has served for the past nine years as the President of the NAACP Bakersfield chapter, says the unprecedented year has had a major impact in the short run, but he is pushing for the long term change.
“Talk and rhetoric is one thing but actually making the important steps of action is is is a totally, totally, different ballgame,” Jackson said. "As the embracement of what happened across this country, across the world, of the awakening of what has been happening to African Americans and showing the next level of what we're trying to head to."
The last year has formed and created new activists like, Xenia King the President of Mothers Against Gang Violence, who says the death of George Floyd back in May of 2020 sparked her to create her non-profit which is full of mothers calling for an end to violence.
“We have the highest rate of gang violence here but what's good is that we've been able to gain unity,” King said. “There is the new black businesses, where young people are getting into black businesses, you know different cultures of different races and we're joining together.”
All three activists share with 23ABC that each of their organizations are just beginning their fight for equality and say they are calling for the community's allegiance.
“We must have more education, not just Black History. Even in the schools, it must be integrated in the curriculum, not just in February but throughout the year," Tatum said.
If you would like to get involved with black organization groups in the community, learn more or support them, you can start by reaching to the NAACP Bakersfield chapter to get you connected.