Nikki and the City

Is It Necessary to Celebrate Black History Month?

photo credit: blue mountain.com

photo credit: blue mountain.com

“We don’t have a White history month, so why is there a Black history month?”

Those exact words rolled off the tongue of my White co-worker, who was oblivious to the fact that he was embarking upon the biggest history lesson of his life. Although his comment was offensive and a bit hurtful, it wasn’t time to take it personal. It was imperative that he being a White male working with Black children in the ghettoes of the South side of Chicago, completely understand why it’s very necessary to celebrate Black History Month. Allow me to school you like I schooled him.

We don’t have a White history month, because White history is consciously and subconsciously celebrated all year long. Think about it. Everyday, the media inundates us with European images that inform us of the “true” standard of beauty. When asking the younger generation who invented the stoplight, they stare cluelessly. They haven’t been educated about how a Black man by the name of Garret A. Morgan, invented the stoplight, which totally transformed streets all across the globe. However, every year they are reminded to celebrate Christopher Columbus for his “discovery” of America. The faces of accomplished individuals in the media fail to fully represent African Americans. Of course media highlights the success of certain African Americans, but typically not mainstream media. And although I absolutely LOVE Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the African American historic experience is so much more than one man.

It saddens me to hear the younger generation equate Black History with slavery. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware slavery plays a HUGE role in our history, but it’s so much more that isn’t being told. What about our royal history? Why isn’t mass media sharing the historic stories of Black kings and queens in Africa? Or the great contributions of African Americans in this country? Have we forgotten about the Harlem Renaissance Movement that’s responsible for today’s classic African American literature? The first open heart surgery was performed by Daniel Hale Williams, a Black man. Our history is rich, inspiring, and extremely vital to our future. Therefore, it needs to be shared and celebrated.

Black History Month began as Negro History Week in 1926. Founded by Historian Carter G. Woodson, he wanted public schools to place a huge emphasis on Black history during the second week of February. Woodson chose that week, due to the fact that it marked the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976 the U.S. government officially recognized the expansion of Negro History Week, to Black History Month. A week wasn’t sufficient enough to properly fit in the history of Blacks. And to be honest, one month isn’t enough time as well, but it’s a good starting point. It’s a great opportunity to take the family to a museum, watch a few documentaries, and truly discuss Black history in depth. However, the spirit of Black History Month shouldn’t die on February 28th. It should live all year round. To answer my White co-workers question, Black History Month should be celebrated all year, until there is no longer a need to ensure us one month. Until the true history of Black Americans is properly told in public schools. Until countries all over the entire globe recognize the beautiful struggle of Black Americans and join our celebration. Until then, this is why we celebrate Black History Month.

Do you and your family celebrate Black History Month? What are your traditions?

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2 thoughts on “Is It Necessary to Celebrate Black History Month?

  1. Bree

    I ABSOLUTELY 100% AGREE!!! Black History shouldn’t be a month celebration- Black history should be something that is embedded in the core of our being. It’s sad, I do blame the media and school system!!… Like you said there are so MANY other contributions made by Blacks, besides Dr. King (don’t get me wrong I LOVE and Appreciate what Dr. King Stood For)! I believe even if Dr. King were here today he would agree that the there isn’t enough light shined on our people as a whole.

    THEY DON’T EVEN MENTION AT ALL THAT BLACKS ONCE WERE THE RULERS OF KINGDOMS.. MEN AND WOMEN! Sad part is I found that out when Nas came out with his “I know I can” song when he said:

    “Be, be, ‘fore we came to this country
    We were kings and queens, never porch monkeys
    There was empires in Africa called Kush
    Timbuktu, where every race came to get books”

    There is so much I want to say right now, but you really tackled the central point and I agree!!!

    Something has got to change!!! It starts with us.

  2. Cassie Gray

    What bothers me, as a white woman, especially now, is that I see all of the emphasis on race differences in our country as a means to divide us. And dividing us makes us easier to conquer. I read on your blog, that you are a Christian. That makes you my sister. That is the only thing I see. And when you look in the mirror every day, the only thing you should see looking back at you is a child of the Living God.

    But if I were to meet with you and talk to you in person, my guess is, the great chasm that has been dug BY DESIGN, would prevent us from relating to each other as sisters.

    I often think, with slavery being stressed on Black History Month, that it should be changed to the Abolitionist Month. After all, in reality, slavery would still exist if not for the collaboration between whites and blacks and the conviction forced on us by our Christian principles to eliminate it once and for all.

    It was not the progressive left that led to the abolition of such a hideous practice. In fact, the Democrat Party (the founder of the KKK) has been working ever since to keep blacks slaves, if only in the mind. It was Christianity that demanded the death of slavery. After all, how can any pastor, priest, or otherwise justify such barbarism against verses like Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”?

    But there is another problem with such a focus on identifying as African-American. You have more in common with white Americans than you do Nigerians, or South Africans or Zambians. You have more in common with Christians than you do many of them.

    I can trace my family back 1500 years to different countries in Europe. But, honestly, I am more proud of my American family lineage than my European lineage. I’ve read some stories of them. Little bits here and there. But it is my ruggedly independent American ancestors that I am most proud of. I feel more intent on making my great grandfather proud than my ancestors of Europe.

    I just started reading a book by GK Chesterton called What I Saw In America. I highly recommend it.

    After hearing a testimony from one of our vets serving in Iraq who protected the Judge and the court during Sadaam Hussein’s trial, I’ve been trying to answer the question posed to him. One interim government official came to him with a bewildered look on his face and said, “What does it mean to be an American”? He was surprised that our soldiers would risk their lives so that the Iraqi’s could exact justice on Hussein and rebuild their own country.

    This book by Chesterton, I hope, will help me best answer that question.

    What most people have said is that America represents an idea. The idea that all men are created equal set in stone in our Founding documents. With an innate ability to create and invent that is beyond human comprehension.

    The government our Founding Fathers created was given to us as fertile soil in order to cultivate our amazing and breathtakingly innovative minds. To explore and debate ideas freely without government oppression. It resulted in a revolution of creative ingenuity that has literally transformed the way people live worldwide. In fact, people still look to Americans as a guide to know how to pursue dreams…and deal with rogue governments. And you, as a black, Christian American have just as much right to that heritage as I do. If you, as a Christian, cannot own the accomplishments of the pilgrims and the white heroes that this country was built on, then that is a problem. Their lives and the changes they made are a part of your story. The American Indians are a part of your story. Heck! The Mafia is a part of your story!

    So I guess my question is, what makes blacks in America so desperate to identify with Africans? Isn’t there anything in your individual family history that makes you feel like an American? That gives you a sense of history to bond with here?

    Isn’t it possible that the real struggle is not to reconnect with your African roots, but a spiritual battle to break the chains of slavery passed down by your grandparents? Just like a poor person must break the poverty mentality in order to become rich. A slave must break the mental chains of slavery in order to be truly free. Couldn’t your real struggle be breaking the spiritual bondage of the past more than constantly seeking for ancestors to build a sense of pride on?

    And if you are a Christian, then isn’t God’s opinion of you enough? If you can’t find great ancestors to build a heritage on, then isn’t the fact that you are alive and here at this time the place where you begin?

    Doesn’t every great family have to start somewhere with one person making a decision to let go of the past and defy the odds to change their families course and create a legacy for their children?

    God said he formed you before the foundation of the world with a specific design and calling that only you can fill. Doesn’t that make a firm enough foundation to build on?

    I am an American. I am a Christian. As a Christian, I get to brag about the accomplishments of my brothers and sisters here and around the world and all through history. The Apostle Paul was an Israelite, Watchman Nee was Chinese, Martin Luther and Johannes Kepler were both German. All heroes of faith and my family. I admire them and hope to live up to their legacy.

    George Washington Carver is my brother. As an American Christian, I take great satisfaction in knowing that my brother managed to invent over 200 commercial products all from a peanut! And he did it with only lab equipment and a Bible. He spent hours in prayer, and our Father taught him how to dissect a peanut like it was playing out on a projection screen.

    Other great men have said God taught them the same way including Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. If Garrett Morgan was a Christian, I would have just as much right to brag about him as you do. As an American, I KNOW I do.

    As a Christian, I have the unique privilege of bonding with a worldwide family. But as an American, I have the right and responsibility to take pride in my people. National pride is a good thing.

    I have tried to understand why blacks in America so dramatically shifted from supporting the Republican Party that wanted to empower them to the Democrat Party that wants to enslave them, but I can’t.

    One thing I do know.

    If we do not make a point at building a bridge between races starting with whites and blacks in this country, then the most vile, horrific, sadistic form of slavery ever invented in human history – Communism – awaits us.

    God said that a house divided cannot stand…but oh the power of unity! As Christians, we should be showing the rest of America how it’s done!

    “I recognize the Republican party as the sheet anchor of the colored man’s political hopes and the ark of his safety”.
    Frederick Douglass

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