This time last year, there were a lot of plays on words between the year 2020 and 20/20 vision. 2020 was deemed the year of clarity — of clear vision. Many hoped for prosperity and more mobility in their lives. This time last year, we were concluding Black History Month on the cusp of an unforeseen national shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This time last year, the country did not know about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or Ahmaud Arbery. This time last year, professional leagues and college conferences had competitions in a variety of sports. This time last year, lacrosse practices (at most levels) were still taking place (or even preparing to start) even among whispers of possible shortened, delayed, or canceled seasons as more information became more widely available about a virus spreading globally.

Now, we are in 2021 and as the common saying goes: hindsight is 20/20. Meaning, it is easier to have clearer vision and develop wisdom after the fact because we cannot know the future, but we can seek understanding of the past. In the last year, the nation was shown the spotlight of racial injustice towards Black people that could no longer be ignored, our nation shut down, and lacrosse seasons were canceled. We saw unprecedented moments of activism across multiple professional sports leagues over the summer — many without penalty for the first time in history. Each shift — each moment was an opportunity for us to grow in wisdom and accountability in 2021 based on what we experienced and learned in 2020.

As some may already be able to tell, Black History Month is different this year — and not just because many students are not back in physical classrooms. There seems to be collective learning and celebration of Black history by Black people and allies that goes beyond only learning about the time of slavery and the time of the 1960's Civil Rights Movement. There seems to be more consistent commitment and action towards social justice for Black people. We seem to be working more collectively to fulfill the desire of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the founder of Negro History Week in 1926 that later became Black History Month in 1976 (50 years after the first Negro History Week). Dr. Woodson understood that learning about Black history is vital to America and should not be confined to a week or even a month — it should be taught year-round. It was, and is, believed by many that the more educated people are about all of history, the more we can change how different races and ethnicities relate with one another.

Transformation is what we have seen. We have seen more Black voices and allies speaking up. We have shared more stories of Black people — not just of tragedy, but of celebration, too. We have shared and learned more beyond just the time of slavery. We have shared some of the lesser known and even untold stories. To me, that is what Black history can be about — continued learning and carrying out Dr. Woodson’s vision as a reminder that this learning does not just last 28 days nor does this learning negate the continued need for unity and advocacy.

When I think of unity and advocacy, my foundation goes to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Yes, this movement did focus on the rights of Black people —nparticularly the rights to vote, to anti-discrimination, and fair housing. However, that movement did not just focus on those rights for Black people only — it focused on women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, people of color, and other groups facing marginalization and discrimination. The Civil Rights Movement was a movement for the rights of all people, not just some people.

When I look at my role and how to continue to move forward with this foundation, I am motivated to learn — not just about my own culture and heritage, but the culture and heritage as others. For example, I made sure to attend the 4 the Future Panel and read the linked article to be a listener so that I can learn more about the spirit of lacrosse as well as the 4 the Future Foundation. Learning more about the game of lacrosse in this way, from those who gifted the game to us, is so invaluable and makes me be a better participant and coach within the game.

I am moved to do my part to advocate for and spread awareness about the issues and challenges that effect other groups, too. While that can be overwhelming and I know I cannot be a “champion” for every cause, I can do my part by reflecting on the relationships I have — personal and professional — and do my part to better understand how the events of the present and past impact the people I know. From there, I can find meaningful ways to advocate. For example, over the last year, I have continued to learn about the significant increase in violence and hate crimes towards Asian-American people throughout the United States since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even by bringing this up here is a small step in awareness and advocating for the protection of Asian-American people. I know that my learning is only a first step, but I am committed to continued learning so that I can be a better ally and advocate.

Black History Month is a celebration of the history and culture of Black people, but it is not just for Black people. It is for everyone. I personally believe that Black History Month is our yearly reminder to always learn, find intentional ways to advocate, and use our knowledge to relate better with one another. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s gave us a foundation, 2020 gave us blatant reminders and calls to action, and 2021 is our opportunity to use our hindsight to move forward with wisdom so that our growth as a nation—as a lacrosse community can continue. So, I ask: How will you use your hindsight for the rest of this year and beyond? 

Lauren Davenport is the manager of athlete development for US Lacrosse.