I’m lucky enough to be in the age group of people who can remember Black History Month including blacks around the world being celebrated this month. I never came to understand why things seemed to change by the mid 90’s until Obama became President. Though I wish things were still like the Black History Month I grew up learning about I do understand Americas need to focus on those African Americans who have done so much for this country and on a wider scale the world.
With that said what I don’t like and can’t accept is the water downing and political correctness approach that has somehow summed up Black (African) American history to be nothing more than a Mount Rushmore portrait to include Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr. I mean we’ve boiled down George Washington Carver to being the peanut butter man. We never focus on the other good stuff Carver did beyond peanuts as well as the somewhat defeatist outlook he had. I went to what seem to be the official Black History Month website and there was more selling of shit then information. The front page had Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. pictures on one side and a big ass picture of Obama. Again I get it but our people are more than those figures and what they’ve accomplished in their lives for not just us as black people in this country but this country as a whole.
I would think all people would start out the month understanding how this whole tradition is not even really fifty years old. Black History month started out as Black History Week in all black schools started by Dr. Carter Woodson and once schools were integrated it was expanded to what we now know as Black History Month. What is sad is most of the great inventors, writers, musicians, war heroes and sports figures have all but disappeared. Just think about, if in one week a whole host of names and accomplishments could get the proper light and respect it deserves, how can such an important thing become reduced when you now have twenty-eight days. Some would like to blame mainstream America, but that’s half of the problem. We as African Americans still seem to not fully embrace our history.
While trying to keep things optimistic we totally lost the other side of OUR American history that includes the hardship African Americans went through in this country’s past. In doing so we’ve left out those who spoke up and fought for change different from King and the non-violent movement whether we’re talking about Nat Turner, those who fought in the Revolution War, Civil War, both World Wars, Rosewood Fla., the Tulsa race battle and all those who fought injustice with the pen. Our activists who aren’t Martin Luther King Jr. have all but been whipped out of common knowledge. When is the last time someone spoke about Medgar Evers , Fred Hammond, or even the preacher who was in Birmingham just before Martin Luther King Jr. got there, I mean there was a movie about the guy with James Earl Jones playing him.
African American History is rich and can be traced back to slavery and we as a country and even more as African American do ourselves a big disservice not to acknowledge all those who have done so much in this country. Fact is that if you look deeper in anytime period you can find new people to celebrate and thank for what they’ve done for our country to a smaller effect local area.