Black history, a lesson in progress

In the 1920’s, the idea of having a period of time dedicated to the important figures in African American history was actually very graciously received by the general public.

Of course, there’s no denying there were just as many people opposed to the idea as there were approving it.

It was the 1920s, and while change was coming quickly, there were still a good several million members of the KKK and plenty of people who agreed with their views.

Despite these obstacles, Negro History Week was formed, eventually expanding to Black History Month in 1976. The month would be dedicated to appreciation for all African Americans, not just the significant ones in history.

As much as the idea was opposed, we’ve pretty much gotten over it at this point. Slavery is abolished, hate crimes are dealt with and the anti-black groups that still exist in the country can only sit on their hands and wish for better times.

That doesn’t mean racism is gone.

I think there is plenty of obvious reasons why African Americans should have their own month. In spite of everything, the slavery and the hate crimes, they stood up for their race to make the claim of ‘liberty and justice for all’ a reality.

They deserve that much. For what they went through to knock racism from a powerful, dangerous entity to something that’s no longer socially acceptable by most, they deserve a month, if not the entire year.

I’m only sorry that these people never got to see the fruits of their labor. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln were quickly eliminated from the equation, by people who thought that once they put a bullet through the heads of those fighting for freedom, the movements would end. I’m happy to say that they were quite wrong in that regard.

As an African American female, I’m allowed to write this article and say that their plans were certainly foiled by change. There are many who would prefer the world to remain as they like it, but there are also a great many people who advocate change.

In Martin Luther King Jr’s  Letter from Birmingham Jail, he told of the time his young daughter saw an amusement park called Funtown advertised on television and asked to go.

Understandably he was heartbroken over having to explain that the park was closed to colored children at the time. It’s a hard thing as a parent to explain to a child that their skin color bar them from so much opportunity.

It’s just as hard, in the 21st century, to have a young child and explain to them that many years ago, they wouldn’t even have been allowed in the same building as the white children they play with daily.

As depressing as it may be, it’s important to educate kids on the things they do their best to gloss over in public schools, and to educate them early. It’s not staining their worldview – it’s making them aware and letting that knowledge shape their view of the world.

So, what do I think of Black History Month? It’s Necessary. Very, very necessary. Maybe to some these events were lost in the past, but they’re events that need to be remembered for the future.

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